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296 B91t 


Two types of faith 


296 B91t 

Buber 5^ 

Two types of faith 



0001 DBlD^Eb D 




By the Same Author 






translated by 

late Finch Scholar, Wesley House 



Copyright 1951 
by Martin Buber 

Grtttf Britain by 


HE English translation of this book, which -was made 
from the German manuscript, has involved consider- 
able difficulties, and#the translator wishes to express his 
thanks to Professor Buber for much help that he has 
given. Owing to the nature of the work it has seemed 
advisable to make the translation as literal as possible. The 
index was not part of the original work. 




HE subject with which I am concerned in this book 

is the twofold meaning of faith. 
There are two, and in the end only two, types of faith. 

To be sure there are very many contents of faith, but 
we only know faith itself in two basic forms. Both can 
be understood from the simple data of our life: the one 
from the fact that I trust someone, without being able 
to offer sufficient reasons for my trust in him; the other from 
the fact that, likewise without being able to give a sufficient 
reason, I acknowledge a thing to be true. In both cases my 
not being able to give a sufficient reason is not a matter of a 
defectiveness in my ability to think, but of a real peculiarity 
in my relationship to the one whom I trust or to that which 
I acknowledge to be true. It is a relationship which by its 
nature does not rest upon 'reasons', just as it does not grow 
from such; reasons of course can be urged for it, but they 
are never sufficient to account for my faith. The * Why ?' is 
here always subsequent, even when it already appears in the 
early stages of the process; it appears, that is to say, with the 
signs of having been added. This does not at all mean that it 

Is a matter of 'irrational phenomena'. My rationality, my 
rational power of thought, is merely a part, a particular 
function of my nature; when however I 'believe', in either 
sense, my entire being is engaged, the totality of my nature 
enters into the process, indeed this becomes possible only 
because the relationship of faith is a relationship of my entire 
being. But personal totality in this sense can only be involved 
if the whole function of thought, without being impaired, 
enters into it and may work within it, as properly disposed 
to it and determined by it. To be sure we are not allowed 
to substitute 'feeling* for this personal totality; feeling is by 
no means Everything 5 , as Faust thinks, but is at best only an 
indication of the fact that the being of the man is about to 
unite and become whole, and in other cases it is an illusion 
of becoming a whole without its being actually effected. 

The relationship of trust depends upon a state of contact, 
a contact of my entire being with the one in whom I trust, 
the relationship of acknowledging depends upon an act of 
acceptance, an acceptance by my entire being of that which 
I acknowledge to be true. They depend upon this, but they 
are not this itself. The contact in trust leads naturally to the 
acceptance of that which proceeds from the one whom I 
trust. The acceptance of the truth acknowledged by me can 
lead to contact with the one whom it proclaims. But in the 
former instance it is the existent contact which is primary, in 
the latter the acceptance accomplished. It is obvious that 
trust also has a beginning in time, but the one who trusts 
does not know when: he identifies it of necessity with the 
beginning of the contact; on the other hand the one who 
acknowledges truth stands to that which he acknowledges 
as true, not as to something new, only now appearing and 
making its claim, but as to something eternal which has only 
now become actual; therefore for the first the status is the 
decisive thing, for the second the act. 

Faith in the religious sense is one or the other of these two 
types in the sphere of the unconditioned, that is, the relation- 
ship of faith is here no longer one towards a person con- 
ditioned in himself or a fact conditioned in itself and only 
unconditioned for me, but to one which in itself is uncon- 
ditioned. So here the two types of faith face each other. In 
one the man * finds himself* in the relationship of faith, in 
the other he Is 'converted* to it- The man who finds him- 
self in it is primarily the member of a community whose 
covenant with the Unconditioned includes and determines 
him within It; the man who is converted to it is primarily an 
individual, one who has become an Isolated individual, and 
the community arises as the joining together of the con- 
verted individuals. We must beware however of simplifying 
this twofoldness antithetically. This involves, above what 
has already been said, the consideration of a fact of supreme 
importance in the history of faith. The status in which the 
man finds himself is to be sure that of a contact with a 
partner it Is nearness; but in everything which grows out 
of it an ultimate distance persists which is not to be over- 
come. And on the other hand the act by which man acknow- 
ledges truth presumes the distance between a subject and its 
object; but the relationship which arises from it with the 
being indicated by the acknowledged fact can develop into 
the most intimate nearness, and indeed into the feeling of 

The first of the two types of faith has its classic example in 
the early period of Israel, the people of faith a community 
of faith which took its birth as a nation, a nation which took 
its birth as a community of faith; the second in the early 
period of Christianity that arose in the decay of ancient 
settled Israel and the nations and faith-communities of the 
Ancient East as a new formation, from the death of a great 
son of Israel and the subsequent belief in his resurrection, a 

new formation which first, in prospect of the approaching 
End, intended to replace the decaying nations by the Com- 
munity of God, and afterwards, in view of the newly- 
beginning history, to span the new nations by the super- 
nation of the Church, the true Israel. Israel on the other 
hand had arisen from the re-uniting of more or less disinte- 
grated family-tribes and of their faith-traditions in Biblical 
language, from the conclusion of a covenant between them 
and the conclusion of a covenant between them all and their 
common God as their covenant-God. This faith in God was 
itself born if one may, as I assume, rely at this point upon 
the Biblical narratives from the tribe-forging and nation- 
forging migrations which were experienced as guided by 
God. The individual finds himself within the objective 
race-memory of such guidance and of such a covenant: his 
faith is a perseverance in trust in the guiding and covenant- 
ing Lord, trusting perseverance in the contact with Him. 
This type of faith was modified only during the time of the 
Diaspora permeated by Hellenism, the time when the 
mission was adapting itself to those who were sought, but 
hardly ever has it been changed in its inmost nature. Christi- 
anity begins as diaspora and mission. The mission means in 
this case not just diffusion; it is the life-breath of the com- 
munity and accordingly the basis of the new People 
of God. The summons of Jesus to turn into the Kingship of 
God which has 'come near' was transformed into the act 
of conversion. To the man needing salvation in the despon- 
dent hour, salvation is offered if only he will believe that it 
has happened and has happened in this way. This is not a 
matter of persisting-in but its opposite, the facing-about. 
To the one to be converted comes the demand and instruc- 
tion to believe that which he is not able to believe as a con- 
tinuation of his former beliefs, but only in a leap. To be sure 
the inner precinct of faith is not understood as a mere 


believing that something is true, but as a constitution of 
existence ; but the fore-court is the holding true of that which 
has hitherto been considered not true, indeed quite absurd, 
and there is no other entrance. 

That the faith-principle of acknowledgment and accept- 
ance in the sense of a holding henceforth that so-and- 
so is true is of Greek origin requires no discussion. It was 
made possible only through the comprehension reached by 
Greek thought of an act which acknowledges the truth. 
The non-noetic elements, which were combined with it in 
the primitive Christian mission, originate essentially from 
die Hellenistic atmosphere. 

In the comparison of the two types of faith which I have 
attempted in this book I confine myself principally to the 
primitive and early days of Christianity, and for that almost 
exclusively to the New Testament records on the one hand, 
and on the other side in the main to the sayings of the Tal- 
mud and the Midrashim, originating from the core of 
Pharisaism, which was to be sure influenced by Hellenism 
but which did not surrender to it; I draw on Hellenistic 
Judaism only for purposes of clarification. (The after-effects 
of the Old Testament always lead on to the problem of its 
interpretation.) It becomes evident that Jesus and central 
Pharisaism belong essentially to one another, just as early 
Christianity and Hellenistic Judaism do. 

When I treat the two types of faith frequently as that of 
the Jews and that of the Christians I do not mean to imply 
that Jews in general and Christians in general believed thus 
and still believe, but only that the one faith has found its 
representative actuality among Jews and the other among 
Christians. Each of the two has extended its roots into the 
other camp also, the 'Jewish* into the Christian, but the 
* Christian' also into the Je^Ush and even into pre-Christian 
Judaism as it arose from 'Hellenistic' religiosity, which was 


formed from the Oriental decay by the late-Greek eidos, a 
religiosity which penetrated into Judaism before it helped 
to found Christianity; but only in early Christianity was 
this faith fully developed and became in the strict sense the 
faith of believers. By the 'Christian' type of faith therefore 
is meant here a principle which was joined in the early 
history of Christianity with the genuine Jewish one; but it 
must be borne in mind, as I have pointed out, that in the 
teaching of Jesus himself; as we know it from the early texts 
of the gospels, the genuine Jewish principle is manifest. When 
later on Christians desired to return to the pure teaching of 
Jesus there often sprang up, in this as in other points also, 
an as it were unconscious colloquy with genuine Judaism. 

The consideration of the difference in the types of faith 
leads to the consideration of the difference in the contents of 
their faith, in so far as* they are intrinsically bound up with 
those. To draw attention to these connexions is a funda- 
mental aim of this book. The apparent digressions also 
serve this aim. 

There is scarcely any need to say that every apologetic 
tendency is far from my purpose. 

For nearly fifty years the New Testament has been a main 
concern in my studies, and I think I am a good reader who 
listens impartially to what is said. 

From my youth onwards I have found in Jesus my great 
brother. That Christianity has regarded and does regard 
him as God and Saviour has always appeared to me a fact of 
the highest importance which, for his sake and my own, I 
must endeavour to understand. A small part of the results of 
this desire to understand is recorded here. My own frater- 
nally open relationship to him has grown ever stronger and 
clearer, and to-day I see hint more strongly and clearly 
than ever before. 


I am more than ever certain that a great place belongs to 
him in Israel's history of faith and that this place cannot be 
described, by any of the usual categories. Under history 
of faith I understand the history of the human part, as far as 
known to us, in that which has taken place between God 
and man. Under Israel's history of faith I understand accord- 
ingly the history of Israel's part as far as known to us, in 
that which has taken place between God and Israel. Tliere is 
a something in Israel's history of faith which is only to be 
understood from Israel, just as there is a something in the 
Christian history of faith which is only to be understood 
from Christianity. The latter I have touched only with the 
unbiased respect of one who hears the Word. 

That in this book I have more than once corrected erron- 
eous representations of the Jewish history of faith rests upon 
the fact that these have found their way into works of im- 
portant Christian theologians of our day who are in other 
respects authoritative for me. Without sufficient clarifica- 
tion of that which has to be clarified men will continue to 
speak to each other at cross-purposes. 

In particular I have to thank from the point of view of 
this book four Christian theologians, two living and two 

I am obliged to Rudolf Bultmann for fundamental in- 
struction in the field of New Testament exegesis. I do not 
only remember with gratitude his works but also a memor- 
andum on John iii which he wrote for me many years ago 
in answer to a question: this model colleague action of a 
German scholar in the highest sense has had a clarifying and 
stimulating influence upon my understanding of the passage, 
which deviates from his (as seen in Chapter XI of this book). 

I thank Albert Schweitzer for that which he gave me to 
know immediately through his person and his life, the 


openness towards the world and through this the peculiar 
nearness to Israel, which are possible to the Christian and 
also to the Christian theologian (which Schweitzer has never 
ceased to be). I still treasure in my heart, never to be for- 
gotten, the hours of a walk we took together through the 
scenery of Koenigsfeld and through that of the Spirit, and 
not less the day when we, so to speak hand in hand, opened 
the session of a philosophical society in Frankfurt-am-Main 
with two rather unphilosophical lectures on religious reality. 
He has expanded his lecture into the book on the Mysticism 
of the Apostle Paul. In the dedication, which he sent me 
twenty years ago, Schweitzer says that he establishes that 
Paul 'has his roots in the Jewish world of thought, not in 
the Greek'; I however can connect the Pauline doctrine of 
faith, which I treat in this book, only with a peripheral 
Judaism, which was actually 'Hellenistic'. On the other 
hand his renewed emphatic reference to the meaning of the 
servant of God in Deutero-Isaiah for Jesus has remained 
fruitful; already by as early as 1901 Schweitzer had given 
me a strong incentive for my studies on this subject. 

I retain a thankful memory of Rudolf Otto for his pro- 
found understanding of the divine majesty in the Hebrew 
Bible and for a series of richly realistic insights in his work 
on eschatology, the importance of which far outweighs its 
errors; but even more for the noble frankness with which 
he opened to me his believing heart in our peripatetic con- 
versations. The most impressive of these for me was the 
first, because first I had to drive a breach through the 
psychologist's wall which he had erected around himself, 
and then not merely an important religious individuality 
was revealed but in the actuality between two men, the 

I give thanks to the spirit of Leonhard Ragaz for a 
friendship in which his genuine friendship towards Israel 


was expressed. He saw the true countenance of Israel, even 
when die political entanglements had begun to hide it from 
the world, and he loved Israel. He looked forward to a 
future understanding between the nucleal community of 
Israel and a true community of Jesus, an understanding, 
although as yet inconceivable, which would arise on neither 
a Jewish nor a Christian basis, but rather on that of the com- 
mon message of Jesus and the prophets of the turning of 
man and of the Kingship of God. His ever firesh dialogue 
with me by word of mouth, by letter, and in the silent 
existence, was for him the preparatory dialogue between 
these two. 

To my Jerusalem friends Hugo Bergmann, Isaak Heine- 
mann and Ernst Simon, who have read the manuscripts, I 
ofier thanks for valuable references. 

I wrote this book in Jerusalem during the days of its 
so-called siege, or rather in the chaos of destruction which 
broke out within it. I began it without a plan, purely under 
the feeling of a commission, and in this way chapter after 
chapter has come into being. The work involved has helped 
me to endure in faith this war, for me the most grievous of 
the three. 


Jerusalem-Talbiyeh, January 1950 


IN one of the Gospel narratives (Mark ix. 14-29) it is 
reported that a boy possessed by a demon is brought by 
his father, first to the disciples of Jesus, and then, because 
they "were not able* to cure him, to Jesus himself, in 
order to see whether he "might be able' to help. Jesus seizes 
upon the father's word, 'if thou art able to do anything'. *If 
thou art able ! ' * he replies, 6 all things are possible to him that 
believeth'. The whole narrative is based, in accordance with 
the Old Testament pattern, on the two key-words 2 'to 
believe* and *to be able', and both are most expressively 
repeated time and again in order to impress upon die reader 
that he is to be definitely instructed in this instance about the 
rektionship between the human condition of 'believing' 
and that of 'being able'. But what is to be understood in this 

1 The usual rendering, *If thou canst believe*, according to which Jesus 
is speaking about the faith of the father and not about his own, does not 
correspond, as is well known, with, the authentic text, 

2 Concerning the key-words or governing-words in the Old Testa- 
ment, cf. Buber and Rosenzweig, Die Sckrift und ihre Verdeutschung (1936) 
55 ff, 211 , 239 ft, 262 ff. 

B I? 

case by the designation 'he who believes' ? It had actually 
been said that the cure was not possible to the disciples; if 
that is so, according to the words of Jesus they are not to be 
reckoned as believers. What is it then which generically 
distinguishes the faith of Jesus from their faith? It is a differ- 
ence in kind because the question here is not about the degree 
in the strength of the faith, but rather a difference which 
extends to die ultimate depths of the reality concerned in 
such a way that only the faith which Jesus knows as his own 
may be called faith in the strict sense. The narrative which 
follows proves that there is such a difference, that it is not a 
question in this instance of a gradation in the intensity of an 
attitude and conviction, but rather of the polar distinction 
'belief or unbelief. *I believe/ the father implores Jesus, 
'help my unbelief!' Viewed from the standpoint of the 
event itself this statement is strange, for Jesus had not ex- 
pressly alluded to the father's attitude of faith, 1 and one may 
suppose that the father mistakenly understood the declara- 
tion as referring to himself instead of to Jesus. But the 
evangelist is not so much concerned with a report which is 
consistent in itself as with instruction about a fundamental 
fact. He makes the father say what the disciples would have 
had to say to Jesus, who in his verdict traced their inability 
to heal the boy back to their unbelief. Indeed, the man who 
is referred to in the judgement of Jesus recognizes that it is 
unbelief; but, he pleads, I believe nevertheless! From his 
perception and understanding of himself he knows about a 
state of the soul which must indeed be described as * faith' ; 
but he does not in any way set this subjective fact over 
against the statement of Jesus about the objective reality 
and efiect of the 'one who believes', as if it claimed equal 

1 Torrey to be sure translates in v. 23 : 'if you arc able* (he removes the 
TO as an addition by the Greek translator) : but it is not to be supposed 
that Jesus attributes the cure to the father, provided that he only believes. 


right it is, as the narrator emphatically observes, a cry 
from the heart of the human creature, who nevertheless 
feels as he does and learns about faith what is to be learned 
about it by feeling; the world of the heart is not allowed to 
claim, equal right, but it is also a world. Information about 
the authority and the limit of the feeling is imparted. The 
confession of the heart is valid; but it does not suffice to 
constitute the believer as an objective and objectively effective 
reality. What is it which does so constitute him ? 

In one of the most important works on the text of the 
Gospels 1 the saying of Jesus about the one who believes is 
interpreted in the following way: 'The sentence reads: to 
me, Jesus, all things are possible, because I believe I am able 
to heal the boy * ;*this being, according to the Greek text, the 
'only possible meaning'. But that is an obvious contradic- 
tion. For 'I believe that I am able to heal him* asserts an 
inner certainty, like every use of the verb *to believe* con- 
strued with 'that'. That this certainty is sufficient to pro- 
duce the 'to be able* runs contrary to the experience of 
mankind; that is made quite clear in the story of Simon 
Magus from a circle which touches that of the New Testa- 
ment; in the consciousness of faith in himself as 'the great 
power of God', he is certain that he is able to fly, and, on 
undertaking the flight from the Capitol before Nero and his 
court, breaks his neck; a naive modern poet, Bjoernson, 
even wished to demonstrate by a dramatic example that a 
cure can go 'beyond our power* without going beyond our 
certainty. If however one refers the declaration of Jesus to 
himself only and not to man in general, then the 'because I 
believe' becomes quite absurd; for if the action belongs to 
Jesus alone, Jesus as Jesus, then it springs from his being 
Jesus and not from his certainty that he is able to heal. But 

1 Merx, Die vier kanonischen Evangelien nach ihrem aeltesten lekannten 
Texte, II Teil, 2 Haelfte (1905), 102. 


in addition to this, Jesus and his whole purpose is brought 
perilously near to that of the magician. Are not magicians 
people who believe that they are able to heal ? 

But that Jesus did not only mean himself when he re- 
ferred to c one who believes', at any rate not fundamentally 
himself alone, is proved by the parallel version in Matthew's 
Gospel (xvii 14-21), which sets forth with complete clarity 
the motif that it is not fundamentally an affair between 
Jesus and the people (represented by the father of the boy) 
although in this case also they are referred to as 'unbeliev- 
ing* Jut one between himself and the disciples. The prob- 
lem of the relationship between believing and 'being able' 
comes out here immediately in the disciples' question as to 
why they could not cast out the demon, and the reply of 
Jesus which opens with the definite ' because of your un- 
belief*; it is actually the disciples to whom is ascribed (not, 
as modified versions desire, a 'little faith' which appears 
nowhere else) but that unbelief which is in kind op- 
posed to faith. In the sequence the answer sets forth even 
more forcibly the fact that in this case it is not a question of 
a difference in degree, in intensity, in quantity: as little as 
*a grain of mustard-seed' of the real stuff of faith is sufficient 
'and nothing shall be impossible to you'. At the same time 
it is equally clearly stated that true faith is not the preroga- 
tive of Jesus but it is accessible to man as such, and provided 
it is true faith, they have sufficient, no matter how little they 
have of it. Therefore even more strongly than before there is 
forced upon us the question as to what this faith is and in 
what it differs so decisively from that state of soul which 
bears the same name. 

'All things are possible to him that believes/ Elsewhere 
(Mark x. 27; Matt. xix. 26), it reads, in conjunction with 
the Old Testament: with God all things are possible. When 
the two sentences are taken together we come nearer the 


meaning of what is said about the man who has faith. Not 
to be sure if one means 1 that what is asserted there of God 
may apply to one who believes, that he has the power of 
God. The words 'possible with God' and 'possible to him 
that believes' do not really coincide. 'With God all things 
are possible* does not mean what the disciples who heard it 
knew very well, that God is able to do all things, however 
much this is also associated with it, but, transcending this, 
that with God, in His realm, in His nearness and fellowship, 2 
there exists a universal possibility, that therefore all things 
otherwise impossible become and are possible here. This 
applies also to the person who has entered into His realm: 
the *one who believes'. But it only applies to him in virtue 
of his having been taken into the realm of God. He does not 
possess the power of God; rather the power possesses him, 
if and when he has given himself to it and is given to it. 

This idea of the man who has faith did not spring from 
Hellenistic soil. That which appears to be similar in pre- 
Christian Greek literature already in the tragedy always 
refers to a mere condition of the soul, not to an acted 
relationship which essentially transcends the world of the 
person. So far as I am aware, the only pre-Christian writing 
in which it is found is the Old Testament. Only from there 
are we able to learn to understand it more precisely. 

In Isaiah xxviii. i<5 which, to be sure, is generally mis- 
understood God proclaims that He is *to found in Zion 
the precious corner-stone of a founded foundation* (the 
threefold repetition is to direct attention in the highest 
degree to the character of decisiveness which here belongs 
to the verb). But in order to guard against false interpreta- 
tion of the present-form, as if now the revelation of the 
corner-stone is to be expected, and so those now living 

1 Thus Lohmeyer, Das Evangelium des Markus (1937)^ 288. 

2 Cf. Matt. vi. i ; John viii. 38, xvii. 5. 


might look forward, confidently to the coming time, lie 
adds: 'He that believeth will not make haste', which in- 
cludes the thought: *he will not wish to make haste'. (In 
conformity with this the words of God about His action 
which follow have a future form.) Here seemingly an aspect 
of the man who believes is given which is precisely opposite 
to the assertion of Jesus: instead of the working of miracles 
a strong reserve against them is attributed to him. But of 
course his connexion with the possibility of doing all 
things is thereby set forth: only if and because the 'hasten- 
ing* is possible to him in itself can it be explained that he, 
the man who believes, will not exercise it, that is, will not 
ask for it with the power of prayer of his soul r while the 
unbelievers, mocking, scornfully demand (v. 19) that 
God may "hasten* His promised work, so that they may 
come to 'see' it. Straightway however we notice that we 
have not yet arrived at the correct understanding. For what 
is possible to the man who believes, therefore also hastening, 
is here likewise possible to him only as to one who believes ; 
but all through the Old Testament to believe means to 
follow in the will of God, even in regard to the temporal 
realization of His will: the man who believes acts in God's 
tempo. (We only grasp the full vitality of this fundamental 
Biblical insight when we realize the fact of human mortality 
over against God's eternity.) So the 'passive' in Isaiah and 
the 'active' in the Gospels are combined. This person acts 
because God's time commands him to act, the fact that 
illness meets him on his way indicates the Divine call to 
heal; even he can only act in God's tempo. The power of 
God has both, it ordains both, it authorizes both, even him 
who is apparently powerless. For his apparent powerlessness 
is the outward form of his participation in the power and 
its tempo. How he himself at times came to recognize this 
later on, the posthumous disciple of Isaiah has represented in 


die figure of the passive arrow concealed in the quiver and 
its kte understanding of itself (xlix. 2 f). 

Both passages have also this in common, that the sub- 
stantive participle, meaning *he who believes', is used 
absolutely in both. As has already been shown, the fact that 
nothing is added to what the man of faith believes has a 
strong meaning and reason. It is not by any means an abbrevi- 
ated terminus, arising from the permissible omission of c in 
God'. Indeed the addition of this takes from the idea its 
essential character, or at least weakens it. The absolute con- 
struction conveys to us in both passages the absoluteness of 
what is meant. By which it shall not and cannot be said that 
'faith in general' is meant, a thing which neither the Old 
nor the New Testament knows, but solely that every addi- 
tion, because usual for the characterization of a condition of 
the soul, might tend to miss the fullness and power of what 
is signified, of the reality of the rektkmship which by its 
very nature transcends the world of the person. 


/ m CCORDING to the report in Matthew's Gospel, the 
/ % fundamental point in the earliest preaching of 
I % Jesus in Galilee was identical with that which, 
JL JLaccording to the same Gospel, the Baptist had 
earlier begun to use for the inauguration of each of his bapt- 
isms in the Judaean desert, and probably for the baptism, of 
Jesus also: 'Turn, for the kingly rule of God has come 
near'. But in Mark, where the Baptist's words are missing, 
the word of Jesus, in which we perceive now a pneumatic 
and stormy rhythm in the place of the challenging and 
substantiating style of preaching, runs: "The appointed time 
is fulfilled and God's rule has come near. Turn and believe 
in the message/ 1 (The verb at the end, which corresponds to 
the construction of the Greek translation of a verse in the 
Psalms, 2 can be rendered as there: 'trust the message P) 
The fact that the hearer is desired here to believe * the gospel ' , 
which is only just now being announced to him, has raised a 
doubt in the minds of many expositors : 'Jesus will not have 

1 On the meaning of the word cf. Dalman, Die Wortejesu (1898), 84 

2 106 (105) 12. 


said this*. 1 But we ought not to go so far as to conclude that 
the verb itself is an addition. 'Turn and trust' does not alone 
sound quite genuine, but the conclusion does gain a peculiar 
force and completeness hardly to be obtained otherwise. 
Here too then the verb appears in the absolute sense. The 
preacher does not invite his hearers to believe his word: 
he aims after the intrinsic value of the message itself. The 
hour that has been predetermined for aeons has arrived, 
the kingly rule of God which existed from the beginning, 
but which was hidden until now, draws near to the world, 
in order to realize itself when apprehended by it: that ye 
may be able to apprehend it, turn, ye who hear, from your 
erring ways to the way of God, come into fellowship with 
Him, with Whom all things are possible, and surrender, to 
His power. 

Of the three principles of the message realization of the 
kingship, the effecting of turning to God, a relationship of 
faith towards Him. the first is of historical and super- 
historical, cosmic and super-cosmic proportions; the second 
concerns the man of Israel who is addressed, in whom the 
being of Man as addressed has its concrete reality* and 
through him Israel as such, in which the intended humanity 
has its concrete reality; the third is concerned with the 
person alone there is indeed a turning which the nation 
as such can accomplish in history, but the reality of the 
relationship has, according to its essence, its exclusive abode 
in personal life and cannot elsewhere take effect. The first 
of these principles, which concerns the existence of all that 
exists, is most strictly combined with the other two, which 
are confined to the actual life of those addressed. The world- 
governing dynamis, which has indeed been constantly and 
directly at work, but which as such is not yet apparent in 
itself, has now, in its coming from heaven to earth, so drawn 
1 E. Klostermann, Das Marku&vangelium, 2. ed. (1926), 14. 

near that the human race, that Israel, that the Jew who 
is addressed, can lay hold of it by the turning about of 
their life; since the message of the kairos which is fulfilled 
was proclaimed by the Baptist, 'everybody* as a much- 
debated saying of Jesus (Luke xvL 16 c Matt. xi. I2) 1 indi- 
cates that is, everybody who fulfils the required turning, 
forces his way 'with power* into the Basileia which already 
touches his own sphere of existence, so that it can increasing- 
ly become an actual reality in the world. Nevertheless the 
individual as an individual cannot perceive this event in its 
course; he must 'believe', more correctly, 'trust'. But this 
is not merely an attitude of soul, which is required for the 
accomplishment of turning; the most decisive turning does 
not yet achieve sufficient human reality, but still requires 
something which is effective not only in the soul but in the 
whole corporeality of life; it requires Pistis, more correctly, 
Emunah. Since the kairos is fulfilled, the man who achieves 
turning into the way of God penetrates into the dynamis, 
but he would remain an intruder, charged with power but 
unfit for the world of God, unless he completes the sur- 
render of the ' man who believes'. Teshuvah, turning of the 
whole person, 2 in the sphere of the world, which has been 
reduced unavoidably to a 'change of mind', to metanoia, 
by the Greek translator and Emunah, trust, resulting from 
an original relationship to the Godhead, which has been 
likewise modified in the translation to 'belief, as the recog- 
nition that something is true, i.e. rendered by pistis: these 
two demand and condition one another. 

1 Cf. below in chap 9. 1 incline towards the view that in both parallel 
references fragments of a reading which cannot be restored have been 
mixed up with secondary elements of a different kind. 

2 It must nevertheless be noticed that the Old Testament does not yet 
know the noun in this meaning, but merely the verb; turning to 
God is still conceived exclusively as something concrete and actual. 


The three principles of the message, an heirloom of the 
religiosity of Israel, are referred here to the rime of the 
speaker as to that of fulfilment, and thereby to one another. 
That which was called the 'Old Testament* by men who 
became followers of Jesus after his death, the 'Reading', 
properly speaking, the * Exposition*, in whose living tradi- 
tion Jesus had grown up, had developed them from scanty 
but pregnant beginnings. The kingship of God was an- 
nounced from below as the rule over the people in the Song 
of the Red Sea, whilst the Sinai-revelation, introduced by 
the 'eagle's speech' (Exod. xix. 16), was proclaimed from 
above; 1 the prophets had shown the intended rule over the 
people as intended to become the manifest rule over the 
world in the future, in which the King of Israel will unite 
them all as 'King of the Nations' (Jer. x. 7) ; and the Psalm- 
ists had sung of His ascending the throne as a cosmic and 
earthly event, both eternal and imminent. The call to turn 
back 'to God' or 'up to God' is the primary word of the 
prophets of Israel; from it proceed, even when not ex- 
pressed, promise and curse. The full meaning of this sum- 
mons is only made known to him who realizes how the 
demanded 'turning-back' of the people corresponds to a 
'turning-away' by God from the sphere of His anger or of 
His 'returning' to Israel (this 'turning' and 'returning' 
are sometimes emphasized together). Yet this conjunction 
does not correspond to the relationship between a supposi- 
tion and a conclusion, but turning and returning are related 
to one another as two corresponding parts in a conversation 
between two partners, in which the one who is infinitely 
subordinate preserves also his mode of freedom. We under- 
stand this dialogicism as a whole when we consider that 
previous to the word of God which was proclaimed in its 

1 Cf. Buber, Koenigtum Gottes, 2. ed. (1936), in ff. ; Moses (1948), 74 ff. ; 


fuE rigour in the period after the collapse (Zech. i. 3 ; Mai, 
III. 7) 'Turn back to me and I will turn again to you* the 
cry from below rings out even before die collapse (Jer. 
xxxL 18) : 'Let me return and I will turn to Thee', and after 
the collapse it appears again, at the end of the Lamentations 
(v. 21) , refined and purified: *Let us return to Thee and we 
will turn/ The individuals who had projected this turning- 
back 'with their whole heart and with their whole soul' 
(i Kings viii 48) know and acknowledge that they need the 
grace of their King for its execution. And now to these two 
the acknowledgment of the kingship and loyalty to the 
King which is fulfilled in the complete faithfulness to Him 
there is joined Emunah, as the third principle of the message. 
We find the imperative 'have faith' ('trust') at a later 
place in the Old Testament, in a record in Chronicles 
(2 Chron. xx. 20). In a connexion which is historically very 
doubtful Jehoshaphat of Judah addresses his army before 
the battle, and says: * trust (haaminu) in the Lord your God 
and you will remain entrusted (teamenuy. The sentence is a 
much-weakened imitation of Isaiah's word to Ahaz of 
Judah (Isa. vii. 9) : 'If you do not trust you will not remain 
entrusted.' Here too a deeper stratum of the meaning is 
brought out by the absolute use of the verb. We are not 
here presented with a mere play upon words in the relating 
of the two verbal-forms to each other ; as nearly always in old 
Hebraic texts this is the way for something to be inferred by 
the hearer or reader. The two different meanings of the 
verb in the passage go back to one original: stand firm. 
The prophet is saying (to put it into our language) : only if 
you stand firm in the fundamental relationship of your life 
do you have an essential stability. The true permanence of 
the foundations of a person's being derive from true per- 
manence in the fundamental relationship of this person to 
the Power in which his being originates. This 'existential' 


characteristic of Emunah is not sufficiently expressed in the 
translation * faith', although the verb often does mean to 
believe (to believe someone, to believe a thing). It must 
further be noticed that the conception includes the two 
aspects of a reciprocity of permanence: the active, 'fidelity*, 
and the receptive, * trust'. If we wish to do justice to the 
intention of the spirit of the language which is so expressed, 
then we ought not to understand 'trust* merely in a psychi- 
cal sense, as we do not with * fidelity * . The soul is as fundamen- 
tally concerned in the one as in the other, but it is decisive 
for both that the disposition of the soul should become an 
attitude of life. Both, fidelity and trust, exist in the actual 
realm of relationship between two persons. Only in the full 
actuality of such a relationship can one be both loyal and 

Both the word of Isaiah and the word of Jesus demand in 
a similar way, not a faith 'in God*, which faith the listeners 
of both possessed as something innate and as a matter of 
course, but its realization in the totality of life, and especially 
when the promise arises from amidst catastrophe, and so 
particularly points towards the drawing near of God's king- 
dom. The only difference is that Isaiah looks to it as to a still 
indefinite future and Jesus as to the present. Therefore for 
Isaiah the principles are apportioned to three moments 
which closely follow one another in his T-narrative about 
the beginnings of his effective work (chap, vi-viii) : when he 
sees 'the King' (Isa. vi 5), when he gives his son the name 
'a remnant remains' (implicit in vii. 3), and when he calls 
upon the unfaithful viceroy of God to trust (vii. 9) ; for 
Jesus they are blended in the first proclamation of his preach- 
ing in Galilee. 



/% s part of the narrative of the acts of Jesus in Galilee, 
/ \ Mark relates (viii. 27 f) how, while journeying 
/ % with his disciples, he asks them first whom he is 
JL. JL.considered to be by the people, and then what 
they think, and how the second question is answered by Peter 
that he is * the Anointed-One * . Critical research inclines to the 
opinion that this is a * faith-legend', transmitted presumably 
in a fragmentary form, 1 in which the Church put its con- 
fession of faith in the Messiah into the apostle's mouth; for 
the question about the opinion of the disciples could not have 
been understood, according to the character of the saying 
and the situation, either as a Socratic question or as a real 
one, given that Jesus 'was of course as well-informed as the 
disciples' about the circumstances. My impression is that the 
narrative may well contain the preserved nucleus of an 
authentic tradition of a conversation which once took place 

1 Btdtmann,Dfe Geschichte der synoptischen Tradition, 2. ed. (1931), 276; 
cf. Bultmarm, Die Frage nach Jem tnessianischem Bewusstsein Jesu, ZNW 
19 (1920), 156 f; Theologie desNeuen Testaments (1949), 2 ('an Easter 
story projected by Mark into the life of Jesus'). 


*on the way*. The question is certainly not of a pedagogic 
nature; but I can quite well imagine it being asked in all 
seriousness. I offer no opinion as to whether one may sup- 
pose that Jesus 'did not attain to complete certainty about 
his appointment to the Messianic office until the end*; 1 this 
is not to be decided, and the arguments for and against will 
presumably continue to be discussed as heretofore. But it is 
to be expected of anyone who thinks of Jesus neither as a god 
only apparently clothed in human form, nor as a paranoiac, 
that they will not regard his human certainty about himself 
as an unbroken continuity. The certainty a person has 
about his nature is human only in virtue of the shocks to this 
certainty; for in them the mean between the existence of 
God and the demonic delusion of being God, the region 
reserved for that which is authentically human, becomes 
evident. One may consider that other question of Jesus, 
which was his last, the *Why?' addressed to 'his' God in 
the words of the Psalmist about the abandonment which had 
befallen him, to be a kter interpretation of the wordless cry 
of death; that both Mark and Matthew accepted it, however, 
witnesses to the fact that even so great a shock to the Mess- 
ianic consciousness, as this expression of 'unfathomable 
despair' 2 shows, was not felt by the conviction of the 
Church to contradict the Messianic status. Whatever may 
be the case with the much-debated problem of the 'Mes- 
sianic consciousness' of Jesus, if it is to be understood as 
human, we must admit lapses in the history of this conscious- 
ness, as must have been the case on the occasion which was 
followed by the conversation with the disciples assuming 

1 Brandt, Die evangelische Geschichte (1893), 476. 

2 Lohmeyer, loc. at., 345. M. Dibelius, Gospel Criticism and Christ- 
ology (1935) p. 59, supposes to be sure 'that the words of this Psalm on 
the lips of Jesus signified that he was resigned to God's will*, but I cannot 
agree with this. 


that one is inclined to take this conversation seriously, as I 
do. A teacher, whose teaching depends entirely upon the 
effect produced by his person and therefore by his nature, 
has a presentiment of the cross-road of his fate and his fateful 
work, and is seized with uncertainty as to 'who' he is. The 
attack of uncertainty belongs inevitably to the essence of 
this moment, like the 'temptation' does to that of an earlier 
one. 1 The situation breaks through the limits of the psychi- 
cal process; it presses on to the real question. To whom else 
shall a teacher, who not only no longer has a teacher him- 
self but evidently neither a friend who really knows him, 
direct the question than to his pupils? If anybody could 
answer him, they could; for from the unique contact 
which such a relationship produces they have acquired the 
experience from which alone the answer could be made. 

These considerations were necessary in order to lead up 
to the problem which has to occupy us: how a section of a 
similar nature in John's Gospel is related to the account in 
the Synoptics about the conception of faith. Each time in 
the Synoptics Peter answers with a simple declaration which 
begins with 'Thou art' (Thou art the Anointed-One, or 
God's Anointed, or the son of the Living God). Both 
question and answer are absent from John it could not 
have been otherwise, since his Jesus belongs to a spiritual 
realm rather than to our human one, and he is not open to 
attacks of self-questioning; instead Peter gives expression 
here to his word ia connexion with another conversation. 
In his reply to the question of Jesus to the disciples as to 
whether they too would go away from him, he says (vi 69) : 
'We have believed and known (more exactly, we have 

1 Bultmann explains this too as a mere legend (Theologie des Neuen 
Testaments, 22); I can only consider the Synoptic stories of the tempta- 
tion as the legendary elaboration of the encounter with the demoniacal 
which determines a definite stage in the life of the *holy ' man. 


attained, the faith and knowledge) that thou art the Holy 
One of God. * In Mark and Luke the demoniacs invoke their 
master with this title, which is derived from the OM Testa- 
ment and means there one consecrated to God, be it priest 
or Nazirite; in the New Testament texts the generic term 
turns naturally into an emphatically singular one, which 
John elsewhere defines with precision (x. 36): it is God 
Himself Who has sanctified him, His "only-begotten Son* 
(iii. 16), when sending him into the world. They * believe* 
and 'know' that Jesus is the Holy One of God. The direct 
statements about the master in the Synoptics have in this 
case become one about the disciples. In the Synoptics, Peter 
in answer to the question as to * who* Jesus is in the opinion 
of the disciples, makes a declaration about this nature, but 
in this case he confesses his faith in an asserting sentence 
(that . . .). This faith, joined with the knowledge that is 
condensing it (see also x. 38, xvii. 8), but almost identical 
with it, is the 'work of God* demanded of men (vi. 29); 
the one who does not believe 'in* him whom He has sanc- 
tified and sent, falls, instead of 'having* 'eternal life*, under 
God*s wrath 'which abides on him* (iii. 36). It is not as if 
this way of expressing faith were itself foreign to the 
Synoptics; but where it occurs it concerns predominantly, 
or at least in the main, trust. On the other hand, of course, a 
'believing that* does appear also in the Old Testament (so 
Exod. iv. 5), in order to say that belief is accorded to an 
account received about some event, without there being 
attributed to this act of faith any of that fateful meaning 
such as we find in the statements of John. The boundary 
line is drawn again in such a way that, having regard to the 
type of faith, Israel and the original Christian Community, 
in so far as we know about it from the Synoptics, stand on 
one side, and Hellenistic Christianity on the other (whereas 
Hellenistic Judaism, with its effacements of the boundaries, 

c 33 

has only rarely been equal to the earnestness of the religious 
process; compare the vacillations in the conception of faith 
in Josephus and even Philo, who it is true does rise in a few 
places to a genuine philosophic expression of Israel's life 

offeith). 1 

If we consider the Synoptic and Johannine dialogues 
with the disciples as two stages along one road, we immed- 
iately see what was gained and lost in the course of it. The 
gain was the most sublime of all theologies; it was procured 
at the expense of the plain, concrete and situation-bound 
dialogicism of the original man of the Bible, who found 
eternity, not in the super-temporal spirit, but in the depth of 
the actual moment. The Jesus of the genuine tradition still 
belongs to that, but the Jesus of theology does so no longer. 

We have taken our stand at that point in the midst of the 
events reported in the New Testament where the* Christian* 
branches off from the 'Jewish*. That Judaism in its way of 
faith itself subsequently turned aside to dogmatically 
'believing that', until its Credo in the Middle Ages reached 
a form not less rigid than that of the Christian Church 
except that its formulae were never set in the centre this 
fact belongs to another connexion. In the period at the be- 
ginning of Christianity there was still no other form of con- 
fession than the proclamation, be it in the Biblical form of 
the summons to the people, 'Hear, O Israel', which attri- 
butes uniqueness and exclusiveness to 'our 5 God, or in the 
invocation of the Red Sea song to the King recast into a 
statement, 'It is true that the God of the world is our King*. 

1 la our connexion the most important reference is De migr. Abr. 9, 
in which Abraham's acceptance of the non-present as present is not 
accompanied by any doubt, and is derived from his 'most firm trust*; 
he believes because he trusts, not the other way round. Hatch, Essays in 
Biblical Greek (1889) p. 7, incorrectly attributes the same conception of 
faith to the Epistle to the Hebrews (see further below). 


The difference between this *It is true* and. the other 'We 
believe and know* is not that of two expressions of faith, 
but of two kinds of faith. For the first, faith is a position in 
which one stands, for the second it is an event which has 
occurred to one, or an act which one has effected or effects, or 
rather both at once. Therefore the c we* in this instance can 
only be the subject of the sentence. True, Israel also knows 
a *we* as subject, but this is the *we* of the people, which 
can to be sure apply to * doing* or 'doing and hearing* 
(Exod. xxiv. 3,7), but not to a 'believing* in the sense or 
the creed. Where it is said of the people (Exod. iv. 31, xiv. 
31) that they believed, that simple trust which one has or 
holds is meant, as in the case of the first patriarch. When 
anybody trusts someone he of course also believes what the 
other says. The pathos of faith is missing here, as it is 
missing in the relationship of a child to its father, whom it 
knows from the very beginning as its father. In this case too 
a trusting-in which has faltered must sometimes be renewed. 



IN one version of the Epistle to the Hebrews (iv. 2) the 
children of Israel who were taken out of Egypt are re- 
proached for not having united themselves *by faith* 
with Moses as the hearer of God's word. The narrative 
from Exodus (Exod. xix, 17) is here referred to, where the 
people shrank from hearing the word without a medium. 
What is meant is that they had first refused to lay themselves 
open to the voice of God, and then also shunned the mes- 
sage of the mediator, in that they refused to him that which 
was decisive foriis being received, 'faith'. The manifold dis- 
obedience of the wanderers in the wilderness (Heb.iii 16 ff.) 
is traced back to their 'unbelief (v. 19), and the answer of 
the people at Sinai, their declaration of doing and hearing, 
is stated to be worthless because it was openly lacking in 
faith. From this point it is essential that the author of the 
epistle should determine what is actually understood by 
faith. This happens (xL i) in a way characteristic of the 
Greek method of thought, which, in that hour between Paul 
and John, furnished Christian theology with a fundamental 
reinforcement and greatly influenced the following periods. 


Faith is defined, not simply but in a double aspect and in 
such a manner that its two aspects stand unconnected beside 
each other, the 'assurance of what is hoped for* and the 
'conviction of things unseen'. Here in a remarkable way a 
Jewish and a Greek concept of faith are joined together. 
The relation to the future, without a spark of which the 
natural man cannot live, hoping, becomes for the early 
Israelite assurance, because he trusts in the God with whom 
he is intimate (this is the Old Testament meaning of the 
word 'to know* when it is used of the rektionship between 
God and man). In addition however there is added as a 
second point from Greek philosophy the familiar elenchos, 
the 'proof or the 'demonstration', or, to do justice to the 
factor of the believing person, conviction; only one may 
not then inquire who it is who effects conviction, the 
man of faith himself, which would be contrary to the 
sequence, or as the older exegetes think, the faith, or as the 
later ones do, God. For neither the faith which cannot give 
what it is can be thought of, nor God, Who in that case 
must have been named, but He does not appear before the 
verse after the next; in addition however the objective 
Greek terminus does not in any way urge the question about 
the effecting subject, and the second part no more requires 
such a one than the first which is parallel to it. Nevertheless 
the understanding of the meaning of this elenchos as clearly 
as possible is required. The first part has as its object that 
which is to come, that which does not yet exist, which as 
such cannot yet be perceived, the second that which cannot 
in any way be perceived, the unseen and unseeable, that is, 
the eternal in distinction from the temporal, as Paul states 
(2 Cor. iv. 1 8). He who has faith in the sense of the Epistle 
to the Hebrews has received proof of the existence of that, 
tie existence of which admits of no observation. 
To the man of ancient Israel such a proof is quite foreign, 


because the idea of the non-existence of God lies outside 
the realm of that which was conceivable by him. He is 
'made to see* (Dem. iv. 35) that the God of Israel, 'his* God 
(vii. 9) is not a special God but the only God, and neverthe- 
less also the 'faithful' God to Whom he may entrust him- 
self; that there is V God, he * sees' apart from this. Even 
when it is recorded of the 'transgressors* that they deny 
God, it means that they presume God not to be present, 
not to care about the afiairs of the earth. 1 Whether this man 
recognizes God's rule or objects to it, whether he is respon- 
sive or refractory, he lives by the fact that God is, no matter 
how he lives. 'Whoever cometh to God' it says in the con- 
tinuation of the exposition in the Epistle to the Hebrews 
(xL 6), 'must believe that He is ... * 2 To the true Israelite this 
is a truism. It merely depends here and upon this point 
rests the whole weight of earthly decision upon whether 
an individual understands the fact of die divine existence 
as the fact of the actual Presence of God, and on his part 
realizes the relationship to God which is so indicated to him, 
to the human person; that is, whether he trusts in the (Jod 
Who exists 'as a matter of course* as truly his God. The 
assurance of what is hoped for requires therefore neither a 
basis nor a support. On the od^r hand for the Epistle to the 
Hebrews (one of its commentators says for the New Testa- 
ment as a whole 3 ) the existence of God is 'not something 
to be taken as a matter of course, but an article of faith; 
man does not feel the nearness of God, but he believes in 
it 5 . 

Moreover, as already shown, the category of 'things not 
seen* in the sense of an absolute imperceptibiHty of all eternal 

1 Cf. for example, Ps. x. 4 with xiv. i ; the negation does not mean 
'God does not exist' but 'God is not present*. 

* For the whole verse, c the next chapter. 

* O. Michel, Der Brief an die Hebraeer (1936), 165. 


things is also foreign to the man of the OH Testament. To 
be sure, God Is invisible; but without prejudicing His in- 
visibility 'He gives Himself to be seen*, namely in mani- 
festations, which He Himself transcends but nevertheless 
gives as His appearing, and this man experiences as such 
manifestations experiences, not interprets both historical 
events and natural phenomena, which stir his soul. The man 
who has faith in the Israelite world is not distinguished from 
the 'heathen' by a more spiritual view of the Godhead, but 
by the exclusiveness of his relationship to his God and by 
his reference of all things to Him. He does not need to be 
convinced of what he does not see: what he sees he sees in 
the faith of the invisible, But even the opening of the 
heavens at the baptism in the Jordan in the Synoptics (it too is 
missing in John) still belongs to the same realm of ideas as 
the view of the elders from the top of Sinai whereas in 
John nobody but Jesus himself has a sight of God (xii. 44, 
xiv. 9). We must only insist on understanding such passages 
*rationalistically*, or rather in the highest sense realistically. 
Christian and late-Judaistic considering as true that God 
exists belongs to the other side. 

In John's Gospel the faith which is expressed in 'We have 
obtained the faith and knowledge* is placed under the com- 
mand and the judgement. It is recorded (vi 28 ff.) how, 
after the feeding of the five thousand, the 'crowd', which 
had followed Jesus in boats over the Sea of Genesaret, asked 
him what they had to do 'in order to do the works of God', 
that is, to fulfil the will of God in their lives. He replies: 
'This is the work of God, that ye believe in him whom He 
has sent*. 'He who believes in him', it says in another passage 
(iii. 1 8), is not judged. He who does not believe is already 
judged. The most profound interpretation of these words 
that I know 1 says that in the decision of faith there comes to 
1 Bultmann, Das Johannesevangelium (1939), 1*5- 

light what the individual really is and always has been, but 
it does so in such a manner that only now it is being decided; 
and so the great separation between light and darkness 
takes place. The supposition for a decision between faith or 
unbelief is lacking in the world of Israel, the place for it is 
as it were missing, because the world of Israel grew out of 
covenants with God. The separation, which is announced in 
Israel's Scriptures, cannot be between those who have faith 
and those who have not, because there is here no decision of 
faith or unbelief. The separation which is here meant takes 
place between those who realize their faith, who make it 
effective, and those who do not. But the realization of one's 
faith does not take place in a decision made at one definite 
moment which is decisive for the existence of him who 
makes the decision, but in the man's whole life, that is in 
the actual totality of his relationships, not only towards 
God, but also to his appointed sphere in the world and to 
himself. A man does the works of God accordingly in pro- 
portion to the effectiveness of his faith in all things. For 
Israel according to its mode of faith everything is de- 
pendent upon making its faith effective as actual trust in 
God. One can 'believe that God is' and live at His 
back; the man who trusts Him lives in His face. Trusting 
can only exist at all in the complete actuality of the vita 
humana. Naturally there are different degrees of it, but 
none which requires for its actuality merely the sphere of 
the soul and not the whole area of human life. By its very 
nature trust is substantiation of trust in the fulness of life in 
spite of the course of the world which is experienced. The 
Old Testament paradigm for this is Job : he experiences and 
expresses without restraint the apparent godlessness of the 
course of the world and reproaches God with it, without 
however diminishing his trust in Him; indeed, whilst God 
Himself 'hides His face' and * withdraws the right' from Hi$ 


creature, Job waits in expectation of seeing Him in the 
body (xix. 26 is to be understood, in this way), by which 
sight the cruel appearance of what appears is pierced and 
overcome, seeing by seeing and it happens (xlii. 5). 

It must not however remain unnoticed that the setting of 
faith tinder the judgement of God and seemingly in that 
same 'Christian* meaning of faith as acceptance of the truth 
of a proposition and of iinbelief as the opposing of it was 
not foreign to the Judaism of the early Talmud, as the much- 
discussed sentence of the Mishna (Sanhedrin X) shows, which 
denies a share in the * coming world', that is in eternal life, 
to three categories: to those who deny the resurrection of 
the dead, to those who deny the heavenly origin of the 
Torah, and to the * Epicureans' who, following the teaching 
of Epicurus, deny to God as the Perfect Being an interest in 
earthly affairs. But this proposition, which is indeed con- 
temporary with the early days of the Christian Community, 
characteristically is not concerned at all with belief or un- 
belief in the existence of God or the existence of any tran- 
scendent being; the reason for the three negations being 
condemned obviously consists in the fact that they tend to 
prevent or destroy man's complete trust in the God Who 
is believed in. The third is the most general and fundamental : 
only the man who knows that the Creator-God, die God of 
all things, cares about him can trust Him. This caring of 
God manifests itself most sensibly in two acts, one in the 
past, yet which directly influences the present condition of 
the man who trusts: the revelation to Israel, through which 
he learns how he can fulfil God's will; and one in the future, 
which however acts similarly, the resurrecting of the dead, 
the promise of which warrants to the man who trusts that 
even death, apparently the end of his existence, is not able 
to put an aid to God's concern with hifn and accordingly to 
his concern with God. The man who contests these three 

says the sentence of the Mishnah himself destroys his 
relationship to God, apart from which there is no eternal 
life for man. 

It is evident that a considerable change in relation to the 
Old Testament idea of faith has here taken place, and this 
under the influence of Iranian doctrines and Greek ways 
of thought. But we must not fail to recognize how strong 
the organic connexion with the original state of Israel's 
faith has remained even in this attitude. The further develop- 
ment, determined by the discussion with Christianity and 
Islam, proceeding from formula to formula and leading 
to the regular confession in creeds, belongs no longer in 
essence to living religion itself but to its intellectually con- 
stituted outposts, to the theology and the philosophy of 


HE sentence in the Epistle to the Hebrews about the 
man who comes to God runs in its complete form: 
'Without faith (pistis) it is impossible to please God; for 
whosoever cometh to God must believe (pisteuein) 
that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who 
seek Him 9 . Here the acknowledgment of God's exist- 
ence is blended in one 'faith' with the Old Testament 
attitude of trust in Him, but in such a way that this second 
element also becomes a believing 'that* He is the rewarder. 
The sentence thereby seems to come near that of the 
Mishnah about the three categories, but this is only appar- 
ently the case. The Mishnah leaves the fundamental character 
of the trust intact; trust is not changed into acknowledg- 
ment, but the kck of it to denial, and that in accordance 
with the meaning a person can be a confessor without 
really trusting, whereas the denial makes the kck of 
trust absolute. But it is quite foreign to the spirit of the 
Mishnah, as I said, that the primary certainty of God, with- 
out which man cannot be agreeable to God, as Enoch (y. 5) 
was agreeable to Him, becomes a constituent part of the 


* believing that*. Nevertheless 'the elders' (v. 2) i.e. the men 
of faith of the Old Testament, are called as witness for this 
faith, naturally without it being possible to say of any one 
of them that, in the sense of an inner or external act of con- 
fession, he had 'believed that God is*. The strange thing is 
that among the evidences cited for Abraham's faith there is 
missing that central incident amongst the seven revelations 
belonging to him in the Genesis-account, where alone it is 
said of the patriarch (xv. 6) that, according to the usual 
translation, he believed in God, or rather, according to the 
true meaning of the word, trusted Him; it is missing here, 
although soon afterwards (Hebrews xL 12) the preceding 
verse from the same chapter is quoted. But that gigantic 
figure, Paul, whom we must regard as the real originator of 
the Christian conception of faith, has, before the author of 
the Epistle to the Hebrews, based his representation of 
Abraham as the father and prototype of the man of faith 
(Rom. iv) upon this incident. 

In the Genesis-narrative Abraham *in the vision' by night 
is taken by God, Who in the struggles had been his * shield* 
(xv. i), out of the tent and placed in view of the starry- 
heavens of Canaan, that he might count the stars if he were 
able : 'so shall thy seed be Mt is now said of Abraham that he 
'continued to trust' God (the peculiar verbal form is meant 
to express this), and of God that He 'deemed' this 'as the 
proving true' of him. We must try to grasp what the narra- 
tor meant by this, in order to estimate the difference between 
this and what Paul derived from the text which was not 
only translated into Greek but virtuaEy Hellenized, and 
with "which he had grown up to be familiar, so that it deeply 
influenced his understanding of the original. What is recor- 
ded of Abraham is an immovable steadfastness: one is re- 
minded by this use of the verb of the use of the noun in the 
story of the battle with Amalek (Exod. xvii. 12) where 


Moses* right hand, 1 held up by a support and raised to the 
sky, is 'steadiness 5 , that is, remains firmly steady; we might 
come nearest the verbal-form if we render it: 'and he let 
remain firm to JHVH* (no object is required here), whereby 
however no special action is meant but only as it were a 
supply of strength in relation to an existent essential relation- 
ship of trust and faithfulness together. 2 In view of a promise 
which he was able to believe only from this essential re- 
lationship, the patriarch enhanced this yet by strengthened 
surrender. This is now deemed as proving him true. As 
zedek is the pertinendy-fitting verdict, the agreement of an 
assertion or action with reality, about which judgement is 
made, so zedakak is the manifestation of the conformity 
between what is done and meant in the personal conduct of 
life, 3 the proving true (which idea is then transferred to God 
as confirmation of His benevolence). Which action in the 
past finally attains the character of a proving true can in the 
nature of the case be decided neither by the individual nor 
his community, but by God alone, through His 'deeming*, 
in which alone everything human becomes openly what it is. 
The verb, which later receives the meaning *to think*, 

1 It is to be read in the singular, corresponding with the previous 
verse; on the whole incident c die chapter *The Battle* in my book 

2 According to Weiser, Glauben im Alten Testament, Festschrift Georg 
Beer (1933), 91, the hiphil form of the verb, where it is used of the rela- 
tionship of man to God, had the meaning of a declaration in the sense of 
'perceiving the relationship into which God enters with men and of 
recognizing it in such a manner that main places himself in this relation- 
ship'. The attitude of Abraham, in Gen. xv. 6 cannot be covered by this 
definition; he does not place himself in a relationship, but he already 
stands in it, and now essentially remains in it. Even a usual verbal form 
like Exod. iv. 31, xiv. 31 intends to relate a consolidating of Emunah, 
and not a turning towards it; this is expressed so only in a late text, 
Jonah iii. 5, which already belongs to die beginning of the mission. 

* Buber-Rosenzweig, Die Schrift und ihre Verdeutschung, 156. 


originated, it seems, in the technical sphere as 'to think out, to 
plan*; although it slightly touches forensic language in the 
sense of legal attribution, it has not deeply penetrated it; its 
main meaning has become *to consider', either as delibera- 
tion, plan, or as estimation, valuation. Men of course are 
only able to estimate and value individual phenomena as 
such; 1 God however can deem anything which happens in a 
man and which proceeds from him as the full realization of 
the essential relationship to the Godhead. For in this mo- 
ment, in this movement of his total being, the person has 
raised himself to that position which is decisive for the 
revelation of his worth; the nature of the creature has 
attained the being intended by the creation, and even the 
most extreme 'temptation' will only be able to draw forth 
and realize what was then ordained. 

Paul found in his Greek Bible at this point something 
which is immersed in a different atmosphere. Abraham does 
not believe *in' God, in the sense of a perseverence in Him, 
but he believes Him which to be sure does not require to 
mean that he believed His words (such a weakening of the 
sentence is not in the mind of the translator), but it does 
denote an act of the soul in the moment described. More 
important still is the fact that instead of the divine considera- 
tion, deeming, ratification* there has come into being an 
attributing, a category in the judicial computation of items 
of guilt and innocence against each other, and in connexion 
with this instead of the proving true, a * righteousness', the 
tightness of the conduct which justifies the individual 
before God; both are a limitation, a deflation of that original 
fulness of life, a limitation common to Alexandrian and 
contemporary rabbinical Judaism. With its assumption by 
Paul however the sentence is penetrated by the principles 

1 Hence not only God (Ps. xxxii. 2) but men also (2 Sam. xix. 20) can 
reflect, contemplate, remember a failure of anyone. 

of the Pauline faith, and justification doctrine, and its import 
is changed: faith, as the divine activity in man, gives rise to 
the condition of being righteous, which the 'works', pro- 
ceeding from men alone, the mere fulfilment of the c kw', 
are not able to bring about. The simple face-to-face relation- 
ship between God and man in the Genesis story is replaced 
by an interpenetration which comes about by faith and 
faith alone, the dialogical by the mystical situation; but this 
situation does not remain, as nearly always in mysticism, an 
end in itself; it is grasped and discussed as the situation which 
alone can place the individual in that state in which he can 
stand the judgement of God. By imparting the state of faith 
God Himself renders it possible as it were for Him to be 
gracious without detriment to His justice. When we read 
that sentence first in the original and thai in the Septuagint 
we are displaced from the high-ground where God receives 
Abraham's attitude of faith, his persistence in Him, as prov- 
ing true, to the deep valley, where the act of faith is entered 
in the book of judgement, as the decisive fact of the case in 
favour of the person judged; when we read the sentence 
afterwards in the context of the Pauline letters we are 
removed on to a rocky slope where the inner divine dia- 
lectic governs exclusively. The fundamentals of this dia- 
lectic-idea are to be found in Judaism, namely in the early 
Talmud, but the conception of the intercourse between the 
divine attributes of severity and of mercy 1 changes here to 
the extreme real paradox, by which for Paul (here we 
are obliged to anticipate for a moment the course of this in- 
vestigation) even the great theme ofhis faith, his Christology, 
.is supported, without it being possible to be expressed: in 
redeeming the world by the surrender of His son God re- 
deems Himself from the fate of His justice, which would 
condemn it. 

1 C below in chapter 14 further on this point. 


The transformation of Israel's conception of faith by 
Paul becomes still clearer perhaps in another of his quota- 
tions. In the Epistle to the Gaktians (iii. 6) he repeats first 
the reference to Abraham: all who have faith share in the 
blessing bestowed upon him, whereas the doers of the law 
'stand under the curse* a far-reaching verdict, which Paul 
bases upon the translation of the Septuagint: as the con- 
cluding sentence in the list of curses on Mount Ebal (Deut. 
xxvii. 26) it said, following a tradition for which we have 
other testimonies too, * Cursed be the man who does not 
uphold the words of this instruction to do them*, which is 
changed into * Cursed is everyone who does not continue in 
all things which are written in the book of the law, to do 
them*. 'By law', it now runs, 'no one is justified before 
God*. In support of this (v. n) the word of the prophet 
Habakkuk (ii 4) about the just or rather the man proved 
true is referred to, who 'will live in his faith*, a word which 
Paul quotes also in the Epistle to the Romans (i. 17) in order 
to characterize the 'righteousness* which is truly agreeable 
to God, and which 'is revealed by faith to faith*. The word 
from Habakkuk and the sentence about Abraham have 
evidently been joined with each other in his mind, as the 
individual fact and its general proclamation. 

In the difficult and apparently mutilated verse Habakkuk 
speaks about an enemy of Israel. 'See*, he says, as if pointing 
to him, 'his soul was puffed up, it did not become more 
upright within him*. And now he interrupts the description 
with the antithetical exclamation: *But the man proved 
true will live in his trust* (to be understood, it seems, as an 
exclamation of the prophet interrupting God*s speech, the 
like of which we know from other prophetic texts). After 
that it is said of that 'presumptuous man* that he has made 
his throat broad as hell, and insatiable as death he draws the 
peoples to him and snatches them up. Here is unmistakably 


meant the man who recognizes no other commandment 
than the never-resting impulse of his own force to become 
power. He refuses to know moderation and limitation, and 
that means, he refuses to know the God from Whom he 
holds on trust his power as a responsibility, and Whose kw 
of moderation and limitation stands above the deployment 
of force by those who are endowed with it. By the action of 
inflated self-assurance, which has nothing in common with 
genuine trust and is nothing other than self-deception, 
genuine trust in the faithful God has become completely lost. 
The maddened self-assurance will bring ruin upon him.. 
Opposed to him, and appearing only in brief exclamation, 
is the 'man proved true*, the man who represents on earth 
the truth of God, and who, trusting in die faithful God, 
entrusts himself to Him in this confidence which embraces 
and determines his whole life, and through it he has life. 
He 'will live*, for he depends upon and cleaves to the eter- 
nally living God. (One may compare the verse of the 
Psalm Lxxiii. 26, which is probably not much later and which 
is to be understood in a similar way.) 

The two passages in which Paul appeals to the verse from 
Habakkuk supplement each other. Instead of the 'man 
proved true* of the original text, and instead of the 'just 
man* of the Greek version, he understands zaddik and dikaios 
of the man who is pronounced righteous. The man of faith, 
who lives 'from faith', is pronounced righteous so he 
understands the verse. Only from faith, not from the ful- 
filment of God's kw, is a man pronounced righteous by 
God. The law is not 'from faith*, for it does not require to 
be believed but to be done. Paul refers, obviously highly 
conscious of what is at stake, to the verse (Leviticus xviii. 5) 
in which God decrees that His statutes and commandments 
should be kept, in which and through which the man who 
does them lives. In these two verses Paul wants to distinguish, 

p 49 

from the point of view of God himself, two modes of 
life in regard to Him, according to * wherein* they exist, 
on which kind of regard to God, whether the kw or faith 
is that which in this instance or that sustains and preserves 
the 'life', the life that God may characterize as such. But 
now the kw is overcome through the coming of Christ, 
who 'has freed us from the curse of the law'. In the pkce of 
the life derived from doing has come the life from faith; 
from this alone there comes and into this alone there enters 
now *the righteousness of God', His declaration of man as 


HE faith, which Paul indicates in his distinction between 
it and the law, is not one which could have been held 
in the pre-Christian era. 'The righteousness of God*, 
by which he means His declaration of man as righteous, 
is that which is through faith in Christ (Rom. iiL 22, 
Gal. ii. 16), which means faith in one who has come, died 
oix the cross and risen. 

In the matter of 'faith' against * works', which Paul pur- 
sues, he does not therefore in fact intend a thing which 
might have existed before the coming of Christ. He charges 
Israel (Rom. ix. 31) with having pursued the *kw of right- 
eousness* and not having attained it, because it strove after 
it 'not by faith but by works*. Is this to mean that ancient 
Israel did not fulfil the kw because it did not strive to fulfil 
it by faith? Surely not, for it is immediately explained that 
they had stumbled on the stone of stumbling, and that cannot 
apply to the former Israel and a possible insufficiency of its 
faith in the future coming of the Messiah, but only to the Jews 
of that time, those whom Paul sought for Christ and whom 
he had not won for him because they did not recognize 
in him the promised Messiah, of belief. In Isaiah's word 

(viiL 14), which Paul quotes here in a strange amalgamation 
with another (that discussed above, xxviii. 16), the * stone of 
stumbling* refers to none other than God himself: the fact 
that His message or salvation is misunderstood and misused 
as a guarantee of security means that His own word brings 
the people to stumbling. Paul interprets the saying as re- 
ferring to Christ. 'For Christ is the end of the law, so that 
righteousness may come to everyone that believes/ The 
Jews, who refuse for themselves this faith, refuse to submit 
to the righteousness of God. Paul prays that they may be 
saved, but they do not desire it, for they have a zeal for God, 
but they kck the knowledge. 

Again Paul refers to a sentence from the Old Testament, 
but this time he takes it neither from the history of the time 
before the law nor from the prophets, but from the 'law* 
itself. It is the sentence (Deut. xxx. 14): 'For the word is 
very nigh thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart'. 'That is*, 
Paul continues (Rom. x. 8 ff.), 'the word of faith which we 
preach. For if thou confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord 
and believe in thy heart that God has raised him from the 
dead, thou shalt be saved'. Paul refers to the verse of Isaiah 
we have already discussed, 'he who trusts will not hasten', 
but in the incorrect translation of the Septuagint, which is 
perplexed by the difficult text and has chosen a different 
version; hence the sentence which Paul quotes has become: 
'Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed'. This 
is the Pauline counterpart of the Johannine reply of the 
apostle to Jesus, 'We have believed and known that thou 
are the Holy One of God'; both statements supplement 
each other as only the report of a declaration by disciples 
who have been apprehended by the living Jesus and the 
authentic evidence of one apprehended by the dead can 
supplement each other. But with that sentence from 
Deuteronomy, where, as he says, (v . 6) 'the righteousness 


which is of faith* speaks, Paul deals very curiously. In the 
text itself the word which is not in heaven but in the mouth 
and heart means none other than 'this commandment, 
which I this day command thee* (v. n), thus not a word of 
faith but simply the word of the 'law*, of which it is de- 
clared here that it does not come from far above man, but 
in such a manner that it is felt to rise in his own heart and 
to force its way from there on to his lips. But in the sentence 
which Paul quotes he has omitted a word, the last word of 
the sentence. The text runs: 'For the word is very nigh 
thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart, to do it 9 . The word 
which God commands man speaks to him in such a way 
that he feels it rising in his heart and forcing its way to his 
lips as a word which desires to be done by him. As in the 
case of the 'commandment* so Paul has also left the 'doing* 
unnoticed. Elsewhere however (ii. 14 f) this* doing 'appears 
in him precisely in conjunction with this 'in the heart*: 
where he speaks of the heathen, who 'do by nature the things 
of the law* because 'the work of the law is written in their 
hearts*. One may compare with this God's word in Jere- 
miah, (xxxi. 33) that some day the Torah of God shall be 
written in Israel 9 s heart. Strange are the ways of the Pauline 
hour and its solicitation! 

'No flesh' (Rom. tuL 20, Gal. ii. 16), says Paul, becomes 
righteous before God by the works of the law. This thesis, 
of which it has been rightly said 1 that for Paul it is 'the 
principle which requires no proof and is exempted from 
every conflict of opinions', means above all (Rom. iii. 28) 
that 'by faith alone', faith in Jesus (v. 26) 'without the works 
of the law', the individual, heathen or Jew, is declared 
righteous, so that therefore and this is the special concern 
of the apostle to the Gentiles the Gentiles do not have 
to come through. Judaism to Christ, but have their own 

1 Lobneyer, Probleme paulinischer Theologie, ZNW28 (1929) 201. 


immediate approach to Mm. It means further, as we have 
seoi, that the Jews who refuse to believe in Jesus, have no 
prop in their possession of the law, but by their refusal reject 
the only possibility of being declared righteous by God. But 
the law did not come into the world at the same time as 
Jesus; how is it with the generations between the two? 
Unlike Paul's contemporaries, they were not faced with the 
question as to whether they believed in Christ; but of course 
they have 'believed', or rather the 'believers* amongst them 
have trusted God and looked for the coming of His king- 
ship. In this * faith' of theirs they have truly fulfilled the 
'law'. As men of faith, even if, which could not be, they 
did not believe in the Christ who had come, they have 
nevertheless, so we may assume, been declared righteous 
like their father Abraham; did the God who justified them 
detach their faith from their fulfilling of the kw, and heed 
only the former and not the latter also which was done in 
faith? Paul expressly says (Rom. ii. 12) that the doers of the 
law, its true doers in faith, were, as such, declared righteous. 
Or are we to understand by the futile * works of the Law* 
merely a performance without faith? It is however quite 
obviously Paul's view that the kw is not capable of being 
fulfilled; for he bases (Gal. iii. 10) his statement about the 
curse under which those are 'who are of the works of the 
Law' upon the alleged verse of Scripture that everyone is 
accursed who 'does not continue in all things which are 
written in the Book of the Law to do them* (the decisive 
word 'all things* is missing in the Masoretic Text, 1 as 

1 Even in the version which contained the word and which was 
followed by the Septuagint and also by the Samaritan, it undoubtedly 
did not have the emphatic meaning, as we can see from its use in similar 
passages in Deuteronomy. To be sure elsewhere (Deut. xxviii. 58) the 
non-observance of 'all words of this Torah* is threatened with the most 
severe penalties, but Scripture carefully adds straightway what is meant 
by this total claim; 'to fear this glorious and fearful Name*. 


stated), therefore the former are Identical with the latter: 
nobody can in fact do everything which the kw demands 
of Mm under the threat of the curse. The indivisible kw 
which allows of no selection, the * whole* kw (Gal. v. 3), 
demands therefore according to Paul the impossible, with- 
out his differentiating between an external fulfilment which 
is possible and an impossible fulfilment in the complete 
intention of faith; evidently he already regards the outward 
fulfilment as impossible, without of course his indicating 
-what makes it so. 

Here not merely the Old Testament belief and the living 
faith of post-Biblical Judaism are opposed to Paul, but also 
the Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount, although from a 
different motif and with a different purpose. 



HE Jewish position may be summarized in the sentence: 
fulfilment of the divine commandment is valid when 
it takes place in conformity with the full capacity of the 
person and from the whole intention of faith. If we 
want to give a parallel formulation to Jesus' demand that is 
transcending it, the sentence may run like this: fulfilment 
of the divine commandment is valid if it takes pkce 
in conformity with the full intention of the revelation 
and from the whole intention of faith in which however 
the conception of the intention of faith receives an 
eschatological character. The first of these two positions 
starts from the actuality of the acting individuals and 
the conditionality of their ability, the second on the 
one hand from the actuality of God at Sinai and the un- 
conditionality of its claim, on the other hand from the 
eschatological situation and the readiness incumbent on it 
to enter into the kingdom of God which draws near. Both 
conflict with Paul's critical attitude to the Torah. 

I say 'Torah' and not law* because at this point it will 
not do to retain the Greek mis-transktion which had sudtt 


far-reaching influence upon Paul's thought. In the Hebrew 
Bible Torali does not mean law, but direction, instruction, 
information. Moreh means not law-giver but teacher. God 
is repeatedly called this in Old Testament texts. * Who is a 
teacher like Him?' Job is asked (Job xxxvi. 22), and the 
prophet promises the future people of Zion: * Thine eyes 
shall see thy Teacher* (Isa. xxx. 20); man is ever expect- 
ant that the God who forgives will teach Israel 'the good 
way' (see especially i Kings viii. 36) and the Psalmist asks 
as a matter of inward certainty (Ps. xxv. 4, xxvii. u): 
'Teach me Thy paths*. The Torah of God is understood as 
God's instruction in His way, and therefore not as a separate 
objectivum. It includes laws, and laws are indeed its most 
vigorous objectivizations, but the Torah itself is essentially 
not law. A vestige of the actual speaking always adheres to 
the commanding word, the directing voice is always present 
or at least its sound is heard fading away. To render torah 
by *kw* is to take away from its idea dais inner dynamic 
and vital character. Without the change of meaning in the 
Greek, objective sense the Pauline dualism of kw and faith, 
life from works and life from grace, would miss its most 
important conceptual presupposition. 

It must not of course be overlooked that from the very 
beginning in Israel itself, with the existence of the Tables, 
all the more with that of a *Book of the Covenant* and 
more than ever of a *Holy Scripture*, the tendency towards 
the objectivizing of the Torah increasingly gained ground. 
We become acquainted with its results best in Jeremiah's 
great accusation (viii. 8 ), in whose eyes the current saying, 
* We are wise, the Torah of JHVH is with us * means a scorn-^ 
ing of the divine word. In the period of the beginning of 
Christianity the Hebrew Torah conception became yet more 
static, a process which brought it near the conception of 
kw, and indeed caused it to be blended with it; the narrow 


but deeply-felt idea that the Torah has actually been given 
to Israel and that Israel possesses it thereafter tends effectively 
to supplant the vital contact with the ever-living revelation 
and instruction, a contact which springs from the depths 
of the primitive faith. But the actuality of faith, the un- 
dying strength of hearing the Word, was strong enough 
to prevent torpidity and to liberate again and again the 
living idea. This inner dialectic of Having and Being is 
in fact the main moving force in the spiritual history of 

For the actuality of the faith of Biblical and post-Biblical 
Judaism, and also for the Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount, 
fulfilment of the Torah means to extend the hearing of 
the Word to the whole dimension of human existence. 
This demand made it necessary to struggle against a wither- 
ing or hardening, which knew of no other fulfilment than 
the carrying out of rules, and so made the Torah in fact into 
a 'law' which a person had merely to adhere to as such, 
rather than to comprehend its truth with every effort of the 
soul and then to realize it. Indeed the constant danger of the 
form of faith which tends to the realization of a revealed 
divine will, is that the keeping of it can persist apart from 
the intended surrender to the divine will, and can even begin 
as such, which surrender can alone invest the attitude with 
meaning and thereby with its right. The beginnings of this 
process of making the gesture independent go back to the 
early times of the Sinai-religion. The struggle against it 
runs through the whole history of Israelite-Jewish faith. 
It begins in the accusations of the prophets against a sacri- 
ficial service robbed of its decisive meaning by the omission 
of the intention to surrender one's self, gains a new impulse 
in a time of increased danger in the zeal of the Pharisees 
against the many kinds of 'ringed-ones', i.e. those whose 
inwardness is a pretence, and in their contending for the 


'direction of the heart 5 , and continues through the ages 
until at the threshold of our era it receives a peculiar modem 
form in Hasidism, in which every action gains validity only 
by a specific devotion of the whole man turning immed- 
iately to God. Within this great struggle of faith the teaching 
of Jesus, as it is expressed in particular in one section of 
the c Sermon on the Mount*, has a significance, to under- 
stand which one must see Jesus apart from his historical con- 
nexion with Christianity. 

The teaching of Jesus is in this regard fundamentally 
related to that critical process within Judaism, especially to 
its Pharisaical phase, and yet at one decisive point stands out 
against it. 

In the Sermon on the Mount it says (Matt. v. 48), *Ye 
therefore shall be perfect, 1 as your Heavenly Father is per- 
fect'. The Old Testament commandment, five times re- 
peated (Lev. xi. 44 , xix. 2, xx. 7, 26), which is likewise 
founded upon a divine attribute and so likewise summons 
to the imitation of God, runs similarly yet differently: *.Ye 
shall be holy, for I am holy'. In the former instance *ye' 
refers to the disciples who have gone up the 'mount* to 
Jesus, in the latter to Israel assembled around Sinai. The 
address to Israel concerns the sacred principle of the lasting 
life of the nation, that to the disciples arises out of the 
eschatological situation and refers to it, as that which de- 
mands what is definitely extraordinary, but which also 

1 Torrey's opinion (The Four Gospels, 291, c Our Translated Gospels, 
92 , 96) that in the Aramaic original die adjective means' all inclusive' 
is quite mistaken; the references from the Talmud assembled by him 
lack all force of proof, and Matt, xix, 21, where the word has obviously 
the same meaning as here, but has to be translated by Torrey by 'per- 
fect', most clearly contradicts it. Bultmann (Jesus in) understands by 
the adjective: faithful and straight, but proceeds from an Old Testament 
meaning and not that which was current in the writings at the tune of 


makes it possible. In accordance with this the command to 
the disciples says, transcending humanity: 'as*; the com- 
mand to the people says only: 'for*; in the breaking-in of 
the Kingdom according to the teaching of Jesus man ought 
to and can touch the divine in his striving after perfection, 
while die people in the revektion-hour of its history is 
only required and expected to strive, for the sake of the 
divine holiness, after a human holiness which is essentially 
different from the divine. There is in the course of history 
a human holiness, which only corresponds to divine holi- 
ness; there is no perfection in the course of history, and in 
Israel in distinction from Greek philosophy and the 
mysticism of Islam it is an essentially eschatological con- 
ception. This becomes apparent also in the only other pas- 
sage in the Gospels where (probably in a secondary text 
stratum) the adjective occurs (Matt. xix. 21) : he who would 
be 'perfect' must give up everything and follow Jesus on his 
eschatological way. It is of course possible that the Matthew- 
text in the Sermon on the Mount does not give the original 
words, which may be found in the parallel reference in 
Luke's Gospel (vi. 36), it too following the commandment 
to love one's enemy. There we find 'compassionate* instead 
of 'perfect*, and compassion can be imitated, while per- 
fection cannot. In this form the saying coincides almost 
verbally with the well-known Pharisaic one dealing with 
the imitation of God (Bab. Tal. Shabbat issb, Jer. Pea isb) : 
'Be thou compassionate and merciful as He is compassionate 
and merciful'. Nevertheless the Matthean passage remains 
worthy of notice as the expression of a doctrine of per- 
fection of the Church (cf. xix. 21) in which there still dwells 
a strong eschatological impulse. 

Some Old Testament commandments speak of perfection 
in quite a different way. 'And let your heart be perfect 
(complete) with JHVH your God', it says in the concluding 


sentence of Solomon's speech of consecration (i Bangs vili 
61), and certainly not unintentionally the one responsible 
for the redaction of the book recognizes soon afterwards in 
the same words (xL 4) that Solomon's own heart did not 
remain perfect with JHVH his God. Obviously a general 
human attribute is not meant here, but a degree of devoted- 
ness to God which reaches completeness. The same is in- 
tended when, in connexion with the warning against 
Canaanite superstition, it says (Deut. xviii, 13) : *Thou shalt 
be entire (undivided) with JHVH thy God'. 1 This does not 
refer to a perfection which emulates the Divine perfection, 
but to completeness, undividedness, entirety, in the relation 
to God. The Torah addresses the constant nature of man 
and summons him to the elevation granted to him, to the 
highest realization of his relationship to God which is 
possible to him as a mortal being ; Jesus on the other hand, as 
represented by Matthew, means to summon the elect in the 
catastrophe of humanity to come as near to God as is made 
possible to it only in the catastrophe. 

The spiritual struggle within Judaism is determined by 
those primitive commandments, and it is concerned with 
their truth. In our connexion we have to deal neither with 
the prophets nor with the Hasidim, but with the Pharisees. 
The Jesus of the Synoptic tradition addresses them from the 
point of view of his eschatological radicalism (especially 
Matt, xxiii. 13 f, Luke xL 39 ff.) in a way which is scarcely 
different from that in which they themselves address those 
who only seem to be Pharisees; 2 it sounds like a declaration 
directed against unhappy confusions when the Talmud 
(Bab. Sota 22b) makes King Jannai, the Sadducee, tell his 

1 It should be noted that the Septuagint raiders both adjectives, 
shakm and tamim, by rl\io$. 

* Cf. Chwolson, Das letzte Passamahl Christi (1892), 116 C, and 
Bdtrage zur Entwicklungsgeschichte des Judentums (19*0)* 6 


wife that she shall not be afraid of the Pharisees, but *of 
those ringed-ones who look like Pharisees*. Jesus misses the 
mark when he treats the Pharisees as people who close their 
eyes, and they miss their mark when they treat him as one 
subject to hallucinations; neither party knows the inner 
reality of the other. Much in the stories in which *the 
Pharisees and scribes', half chorus and half spiritual police- 
patrols, 'test* Jesus, are snubbed by him and then begin 
their testings again, is certainly unhistorical, and originates 
from the polemical tension of early Christianity, in which 
the generalizing point against 'the Pharisees* may have been 
added in the Hellenistic diaspora 1 ; yet there remains enough 
of real difference over against the true outlook of the 
Pharisees, even if never quite so great as to exceed the 
bounds of the dialectics within Judaism. Nevertheless, 
whether the sentence from the Sermon on the Mount 
(Matt. v. 20) which sounds somewhat 'Pauline* and yet is 
not really Pauline 'For I say unto you, if your proving 
true is not greater than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you 
will not enter into the Kingdom of God* originally con- 
tained the reference to the Pharisees or not, yet undoubtedly 
the criticism which is expressed in it applied not to a lax 
observance of moral or religious commandments by some 
circle of the people, but to the dominant view about the 
relationship to them, a view which was essentially deter- 
mined by that of the Pharisees. And in the preceding declara- 
tion of Jesus 2 (v. 17) that he has not come to dissolve the 

1 Tie ad quosdam, non ad omnes in the Jewish-Christian pseudo- 
Clementine 'Recognitions' 6", n is worthy of notice; c now Schoeps, 
Theologie und Geschichte des Ju denchristentums (1949), 145 n. 2. 

2 1 cannot accept Bultmann's view ('Die Bedeutung des geschicht- 
lichen Jesus filer die Theologie des Paulus*, Theologische Blaetter VIE, 
(1921), i39,cf.D/e Geschichte der synoptischen Tradition* 2. ed. 146 , 157 , 
Theologie des Neuen Testaments, 15) that Matt. v. 17-19 is not genuine 
and is a 'product* of the polemics of the Church*. "When the 'fulfilling* 


Torah but to * fulfil' it, and this means indeed to make it 
manifest in its full original meaning and to bring it into 
life, it becomes altogether dear that here doctrine has to 
stand against doctrine, the true disclosure of the Torah 
against its current, erroneous and misleading usage. (The 
doing belongs of course to this, as is expressly stated in the 
next verse but one : as in the report of Sinai hearing succeeds 
doing, so here teaching succeeds doing only on the basis 
of doing can a person truly teach.) The attitude of the Ser- 
mon on the Mount to the Torah accordingly appears to be 
the opposite of that of the Pharisees; in reality it is only the 
sublimation of a Pharisaic doctrine from a definite and 
fundamental point of view, the character of which can 
again be made clear by comparison. Of course there can 
be no question of influence, since the Pharisaic doctrine 
to which I refer is not attested until after the time of Jesus; 
here also we have only to show the homogeneous elements 
as such. It is to be emphasized that among the rabbis of 
the period other views of the subject are to be found, for 
the inner dialectics continues within Pharisaism itself; 
but the great and vital lineage of this doctrine is unmis- 

The doctrine can best be described as that of granting 
direction to the human heart. The heart of man this un- 
formulated insight is at the basis of the doctrine is by 
nature without direction, its impulses whirl it around in all 
directions, and no direction which the individual gathers 
from his world stands firm, each one finally is only able to 
intensify the whirl of his heart; only in Emunah is persis- 
tence : there is no true direction except to God. But the heart 

is correctly understood it does not seem to me that the contrasting of the 
verses with 'other words of Jesus' and with the * actual attitude of 
Jesus' yields any contradiction otter than that which is Hographically 


cannot receive this direction from the human spirit, but 
only from a life lived in the will of God. Hence die Torah 
has assigned to man actions agreeable to God, in the doing 
of which he learns to direct his heart to Him. According to 
this purpose of the Torah the decisive significance and value 
does not lie in the bulk of these actions in themselves but in 
the direction of the heart in them and through them. 'One 
does much, the other little*, was the device of the college of 
Jabne (Bab. Berachot iya) "if one only directs the heart to 
heaven P (Heaven is to be understood here, as in all related 
contexts, as God.) The Scripture-verse (Deut. vi. 6), 'This, 
which I this day command thee, shall be on thy heart' is 
explained (Bab. Megilk 2oa) to mean that everything de- 
pends on the direction of the heart. Therefore the Temple 
was called after David and not Solomon because *the 
Merciful One desires the heart* (Bab. Sanhedrin io6b): it 
is a matter, not of the one who completed it, but of him who 
directed his heart to God for this work and who dedicated 
it to Him. The doctrine applies not only to actions which 
are commanded, but to all: 'All thy works shall be for the 
sake of Heaven' it says in the Sayings of the Fathers (ii. 13). 
Sin is recognized by the fact that in it a man cannot direct 
his heart to God; he who commits it denies to God the 
directing of his heart to Him. Therefore the project of sin 
and the reflecting upon it and not its execution is the real 
guilt. The pky of the imagination upon the sin is explained 
(Bab. Joma 29) as being even more serious than the sin 
itself, because it is this which alienates the soul from God. 
The most virtuous conduct in the matter of the performance 
of precepts can exist together with a heart which has re- 
mained or become without direction, a heart waste or 
devastated. On the other hand it may even happen that a 
person in his enthusiasm for God transgresses a command- 
ment without being aware of it, and then not the sinful 


matter in Ms action bet Ms intention is the decisive thing: 
*The sin for God's sake is greater than the fulfilling of a 
commandment not for God's sake * (Bab. Nazir 23). Accord- 
ingly, he who has a waste heart cannot truly teach another 
the Torah; he cannot teach how to obtain the direction, and 
without it the individual is not able for that for wMch all 
learning by the mouth of man is but the preparation: to 
open his heart to the living Voice of the Divine Teacher. 
Therefore the Patriarch Gamaliel n ordered that it should be 
proclaimed (Bab. Berachot 28a) that no scholar whose 
inwardness did not equal Ms outwardness ought to enter 
the schoolroom. From this there was coined two hundred 
years kter the principle (Bab. Yoma y2b): 'A scholar 
whose inwardness does not equal his outwardness is no 

There is much to be said for the critical view of the 
Sermon on the Mount wMch suggests that we have in it 
a kter composition from different words of Jesus, spoken 
at different times, with the addition of some from the com- 
munity, wMch probably were contained akeady in the 
source used by Matthew and Luke. It seems to me however 
that the blessings belong essentially together from the start, 
whereas the sayings wMch concern us here, in spite 
of formal elements common to them which obviously 
caused them to be joined together * Ye have heard . . . 
and I say unto you*, are different in meaning and purpose, 
and are therefore probably to be assigned to different groups. 
Three of them (murder, adultery, oaths) derive essentially 
from three of the Ten Commandments and transcend them, 
but what they demand is to be found also in Pharisaic 
teachings, yet without these approaching the forcefulness 
of their address. The other tMee (divorce, formula of 
the talion, love to one's neighbour), wMch have obviously 
been further arranged and adapted to the form of the first 


three 1 , refer to commandments and precepts outside the 
decalogue, and either contradict them (the first two) or 
contradict at least an accepted, apparently popular inter- 
pretation (the third) ; rabbinical writings present either no 
analogy to them or none sufficient. Only that group in 
which 'the thesis' stands *in the form of a prohibition' which 
*is not rejected but surpassed' 2 can in essence be regarded 
as 'fulfilment* of the Torah, and not those also which are 
concerned 'not with a prohibition, but with an instruction 
or concession*, which *is not surpassed but abolished*. 
That nevertheless even these sayings aim at a 'fulfilling* is 
skown when we place together the one in which *J esus 
directly annuls a Mosaic ordinance' 3 with the related Synop- 
tic texts which at all events are nearer to the original version. 
In one of these (Luke xvi. 17 ) a saying against divorce 
(which incidentally agrees with the strict view of the school 
of Shammai) is conjoined with one which repeats, almost 
verbally yet rather more sharply, a sentence from that 
section of the Sermon on the Mount: 'It is easier for heaven 
and earth to pass than for one tittle of the law to fall*. How 
this is to be understood becomes clear when we refer to the 
narrative (Mark x, Matt, xix, Luke xvi) in which Jesus 
actually says this against divorce, according to which the 
remarriage of a divorced person shall reckon as adultery. 
In both instances, the 'Pharisees* appeal to Moses, who 

1 In distinction from tkose they obviously do not belong originally 
together; vv. 39 and 44 derive, I presume, from the same unity (c Luke 
vi. 27 ff.) ; the joining of the first with the talion formuk is secondary, 
probably also v. 43 and vv. 31 constitute an independent saying (see 
further below). In both of the first the Old Testament quotation has 
been, I imagine, pre-fbted subsequently: probably also in the first (cf. 
Luke xvi. 18); whereas in the other group the quotations are an organic 
part of the text. 

2 Bultmann, Die. Geschichte der synoptischen Tradition, 144. 
8 Wellhausen, Das Evangelism Matthoci, 21. 


(Dent xxiv. i) instituted the form of divorce. Thereupon 
Jesus makes a significant double reply. In the first place, 
Moses wrote down this commandment * because of the 
hardness of your hearts * ; about which a modern commenta- 
tor 1 truly remarks that 'lying at the basis of this hard word 
is the deep Jewish idea that the Torah is never a fixed law, 
considered apart from the persons to whom it was given, 
but rather "instruction" given in a dialogue between God 
and a partner whose heart and ear are not always open to 
this teaching of God*. In the second place, Jesus refers to 
God's word in Paradise (Gen. ii. 24) that a man shall leave 
his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and they shall 
become one flesh. Jesus understands this as a command- 
ment: he appeals from the Mosaic revelation to that of 
creation. Therefore in the end it is the same with the second 
group as with the first: starting from the inwardness of die 
divine claim Jesus demands that the inwardness of men shall 
surrender to it. The divine claim in its outwardness has been 
made known in the historical situation and lias reached the 
externality of man, the outward conduct of man; the in- 
wardness from above presents itself in the eschatological 
situation and the inwardness from below can now appear 
before it. Fulfilment of the Torali accordingly means here 
disclosure of the Torah. Seen in regard to man the Pharisaic 
doctrine of the direction of the heart comes here to an 
heightened expression, and indeed to one so radical that in 
contrast to Pharisaism, it afiects the word of the Torah 
itself for the sake of the Torah. Jesus speaks throughout 
as the authentic interpretor: as long as he remains stand- 
ing on Sinai he teaches what the Pharisees teach, but then 
Sinai cannot satisfy him and he must advance into the 

1 Lohmeyer, Das Evangeliwn des Markus, 200 (apparently under die 
influence of my hints, both verbally and in writing, to this circum- 

cloud-area of the intention of the revelation, for only now 
Hs words (familiar in form also to rabbinic discussion) 
'but I say unto you* or 'and I say unto you' arc opposed 
to the tradition of the generations. Now too we hear a 
specifically eschatological-present command like 'Resist not 
the evil*, which must have been unacceptable and even 
intolerable to the Pharisees, who supposed that they had to 
live and teach, not in the breaking-in of God's rule, but in 
continued historical preparation for it under Roman rule. 
They also indeed enjoined that one should not oppose with 
force the wrong done to one in personal life, and promised 
to the one who submits that all his sins would be forgiven 
him; but a principle which forbade action against the 
wrong-doer in general or which might at least be so 
understood, increased in their eyes the area of injustice 
in the world. They rejected in general the position of 
the Zealots; but in their heart, as is to be noticed in 
particular in the recorded conversations with the Romans, 
they obviously felt themselves to be the opponents of 
the evil power, which they opposed by their own spiritual 

From this point of view the last and highest of these pro- 
nouncements, that of love for the enemy, is also to be con- 
sidered. It proceeds (v. 43) from the Old Testament com- 
mandment to 'love one's neighbour' (Lev. xix. 18) which 
Jesus in another place, in the reply to the scribe's question 
about the greatest commandment (Matt. xxii. 39; Mark 
xiL 31), declares to be the greatest alongside that of love to 
God, and appends to it the interpretation which was indeed 
popular but was presumably derived in part from the 
strong words of the Pharisees against the enemies of God, 
that a man is allowed to or even shall hate his enemy. He 
opposes this with his commandment 'love your enemies'. 
In its fundamental meaning it is so deeply bound up with 


Jewish faith and at the same time transcends It in so par- 
ticular a way that it must be especially discussed at this 

In the quotation from the Sermon on the Mount about 
the command to love it is first of aU noteworthy that the 
word usually translated by 'as yourself* is missing, whereas 
in the reply to the scribe the sentence is quoted in its entirety 
(only outwardly shortened by Luke) ; the reason may be 
that a 'love your enemies as yourself* ought not to follow 
it. But the *as yourself is only one of the three falsely ren- 
dered words which follow one another in this sentence in 
the Septuagint and the other current translations. The word 
so translated refers neither to the degree nor the kind of 
love, as if a man should love others as much as himself or 
in such a way as himself (the idea of self-love does not 
appear in the Old Testament at all) ; it means, equal to thy- 
self, and this means: conduct thyself in such a way as if it 
concerned thyself. An attitude is meant and not a feeling. 
It does not say, one should love someone, but *to some- 
one*. This strange construction of the dative is found in the 
Old Testament only in this chapter of Leviticus. Its meaning 
is easy to ascertain when once the question is put in this 
way: the feeling of love between men does not in general 
allow its object designated by the accusative to be pre- 
scribed; whereas an attitude of loving-kindness towards a 
fellow creature designated by the dative can indeed be 
commanded to a man. And finally the noun re'ah translated 
in the Septuagint by 'the one near by, the near* means in 
the Old Testament first of all one to whom I stand in an 
immediate and reciprocal relationship, and this through 
any kind of situation in life, through community of place, 
through common nationality, through community of work, 
through community of effort, especially also through 
friendship; it transfers itself to fellow-men in general and 


so to others as a whole. 1 *Love thy re'ah* therefore means in 
our language: be lovingly disposed towards men with 
whom thou hast to do at any time in the course of thy life; 
for this of course there was also required a soul not given 
to feelings of hatred, and so the commandment was pre- 
mised (v. 17): 'Do not hate thy brother (synonym for 
re'ah) in thy heart'. However in order that no limitation of 
the idea might result in the people's consciousness to whom 
the first half of the sentence (*Do not take vengeance on 
and do not bear ill-will to the sons of thy people*) could 
easily be misleading, later in the same chapter (v. 33) 
another commandment is added, to meet with love 
also the ger, the non-Jewish *sojourner* who lives in 
Israel; 'for ye were once sojourners in the land of 

1 It is customary to base the generally accepted interpretation 
'fellow-countryman* incorrectly on the fact that in the first parallel 
phrase of the sentence the reference is to the 'sons of thy people*. 
That in texts of this kind, as in general, the parallelist form of 
expression may not be pressed, is made clear, for example, by v . 
15, in which 'the humble man* and *the great man* are made 
parallel. Moreover, man on the threshold of history (and from 
such a one, I am convinced, originates the sentence transplanted 
into a late text) often uses 'fellow-countryman* and 'man* inter- 
changeably, as he does the designations 'land* (own land) and earth, 
because he knows by living contact only that which belongs to him, 
and includes that which is other according to the degree in which it 
becomes vitally familiar to him. In Israel he says 'fellow-countryman* 
and means accordingly the man with whom he lives; when he wishes 
to denote him as such, he says 'companion* (re'ah) ; and because he also 
lives with other people as well as fellow-countrymen, that is with 
* foreign-settlers* (gerim) [real 'foreigners', nochrim, he learns to know 
only from his or their journeyings or in war, he does not 'live* with 
them], he refers in particular to them. Our idea of 'fellow-creature* is a 
late one, derived from the reflection (stoicism) which strove to over- 
come the fact of foreignness, and from the great religious missionary 
movements in which this first became possible on a large scale (Hellen- 
istic mystery religions, Jewish and Christian missions to the heathen). 


Egypt*, which means, ye have yourselves known what It 
means to be treated as sojourners, unloved. The first 
commandment ends with the declaration *I am JHVH* , the 
second with *I am JHVH thy God'. Translated into our 
language: this is not a moral commandment but a com- 
mandment of faith; the declaration means accordingly: 
I command this to you not as human beings as such, but 
as My people. The connexion between the actuality of 
faith and the commandment to love is disclosed more 
deeply still to us if we turn to the passage where, in apparent 
contradiction to our conclusions, the commandment is 
construed with the accusative (Deut. x. 19): c Ye shall love 
the sojou'ner, for ye were sojoumers in the land of 
Egypt'. The foil understanding of this sentence is first dis- 
closed in its connexion with the three references to love in 
the previous verses. Israel is summoned to love God (v. 12) ; 
it is said of God (v. 15) that He loved Israel's fathers when 
they were foreign-settlers; and then it is said of Him (t/. 18) 
that He loves the sojoumer not this or that one, 
but the man dependent upon a foreign nation in general, 
*to give him bread and raiment', (cf. the words ofjacob on 
his way to become a^er, Gen. xxviii. 20), as He does right 
to the person within the nation who is dependent upon 
others, *the orphan and the widow*. With God there is no 
difference between love and the action of love. And to love 
Him with the complete feeling of love 1 can be commanded, 
for it means nothing more than to actualize the existing 
relationship of faith to Him, as in trust so in love, for both 

1 Bultmann (Jesus, 105 ff.) attacks the view that a feeling is involved in 
the commandment to love God and one's neighbour. Certainly a 
'sentimental* feeling (no) is not involved, but a great feeling is never 
sentimental, and the love of God is the greatest; *to submit one's own 
will in obedience to God's* (105) does not describe love to God; when 
and so far as the loving man loves he does not need to bend his will, for 
he lives in the Divine Will. 


are one. But if a person really loves Him, lie is led on by Ms 
own feeling to love the one whom He loves; naturally not 
the sojourner only it merely becomes quite clear in 
Ms case what is meant but every man whom God loves, 
according as a person becomes aware that He does love 
him. To the loving attitude towards one's fellow love itself 
is added here, awakened by the love to God. 

The maxim from the Sermon on the Mount stands over 
against this Old Testament view of the connexion between 
the love of God and the love of man, or, if one prefers the 
derived categories to original realities, between 'religion' 
and 'ethics 3 * Its kinship with the maxims of Deuteronomy 
and its distance from them is shown at once in the argument 
about the love of God for all men (v. 45). By His grace in 
the realm of Nature He sheds His love upon all without 
distinction, and we are to imitate His Love (both of these 
are the doctrine of the Talmud also). But 'all* does not 
mean in this case what it did there: not only Israel but also 
foreigners, but: evil and good, just and unjust. God does 
not select the good and the just in order to love them; so 
also we ought not to select them. 

We have seen that the Old Testament commandment of 
love in its primitive meaning of re 6 ah does not admit of the 
interpretation that one ought to hate the enemy. Obviously 
Jesus starts from a changed meaning which had taken place 
in the noun. The question here is not the much-discussed 
problem as to whether at the time of Jesus only fellow- 
countrymen were included in it, because he nowhere 
indicates here that he has non-Jews in mind: rather it is 
about the fact that in his time the word referred mostly to 
the personal friend: over against love of a friend, love to a 
person who loves me, he set love towards a person who 
hates me. But the interpretation quoted in the text which 
was apparently a popular saying, that one was free to hate 


die enemy, misunderstood not merely the wording of the 
commandment to love; It stood also in contradiction to 
the express commandments of the Torah (Exod. xxiii. 4 ), 
to bring help to one's 'enemy', *the person who hates one*. 
Nevertheless amongst the people appeal may have been 
made, as already indicated, to certain expressions on the part 
of the Pharisees. 

In the sayings of the Pharisees exceedingly strong ex- 
pression is given to the universality of the command to 
love, so when Qer. Nedarim 4ic, Sifra on Leviticus xix. 18) 
one of two great rabbis declares, like Jesus, that the Leviticus 
statement about love for one's neighbour was the greatest 
precept in the Torah, his companion, obviously because of 
the possibility of the text being misinterpreted, places an- 
other verse of Scripture still higher, namely (Gen. v. i): 
'This is the deed of the generations of Adam. ... In the 
image of God He created him* : since everyone originates 
from God's image, discriminating between men or the 
races of men is in the end inadmissible, the question as to 
the worthiness of this or that person to be loved is therefore 
directed against God Himself. It actually says in a Midrash 
(Genesis rabba XXTV): 'Know whom thou despisest. He 
created him in the image of God', and another (Pesikta 
zut. on Numbers viii), emphasizing his absolute value: 
* Whoever hates a man is as if he hated Him Who spake 
and the world was'. In sayings like these the strong basing 
of the morality upon the actuality of faith is not inferior to 
that in the saying of Jesus. What according to this doctrine 
God thinks in particular of national hatred becomes evident 
when an early school of interpretation, which attributes a 
share in eternal life to all men, even to evil-doers, makes 
God reply (Bab. Sanhedrin iosa) to the angels' question as 
to what He would do if David complained before His 
throne about the presence of Goliath, that it is incumbent 


upon Him to make the two friends with each other. Never- 
theless a limit is often described, owing to the Biblical idea 
of the * enemies of God' or 'haters of God \ of whom the 
Psalmist (Ps. cxxxix. 21 f.) avows that he hates them funda- 
mentally as his own enemies. How shall a man, may precise- 
ly one who is convinced of the truth of his faith easily ask 
himself, not hate them, and particularly those too whose 
'hostility* to God manifests itself in the denial of His pres- 
ence? To the question of a philosopher as to who among 
men is absolutely deserving of hatred, a rabbi replies (Tos. 
Shebuot HI, 6): *He who denies his Creator'. Especially 
with the increase of a formalized 'believing that*, this 
opinion is hardened: unbelievers and heretics do not merely 
cause confusion in the world of man, but they disturb God's 
saving activity, and one must fight them and destroy them 
and very rarely can hatred be absent from such a conflict. 
So by appealing to this Psalm, a saying comes about like 
that (Abot de R. Natan XVI. 32) which begins by contra- 
dicting a limitation of the commandment of love, in order 
then to continue: 'Love all and hate the heretics, the 
apostates and the informers'. In this case it is shown crudely 
how dangerously unstable the boundary-line is. To one 
assured of his possession of the God of Israel it was but a 
short step to hold (Sifre 22) that one who hates Israel is 'as 
one who hates God'. Such opinions are easily transferred 
to the personal sphere, so that many among the people 
understand their own enemies as God's, instead of reckoning 
with the Psalmist God's enemies as their own. But we do 
not come to know the real danger on such lowlands as 
these, but rather upon the heights of faith. Not merely 
fanatics but precisely genuine prophets often cannot but 
attribute opposition to the message God's message! to 
malice and hardness of heart and in their zeal for it they lose 
the simple love. The Gospel in which the Sermon on the 


Mount appears knows the same thing in Jesus* angry out- 
bursts against the * generation of vipers* of the Pharisees 
(Matt. xiL 34, xxiii, 33), the authenticity of which, it is true, 
has been justifiably contested. 

All in aE, the saying of Jesus about love for the enemy 
derives its light from the world of Judaism in which he 
stands and which he seems to contest; and he outshines it. 
It is indeed always so when a person in the sign of the 
kairos demands the impossible in such a way that he com- 
pels men to will the possible more strongly than before. 
But one should not fail to appreciate the bearers of the 
plain light below from amongst whom he arose: those 
who enjoined much that was possible so as not to cause 
men to despair of being able to serve God in their poor 
everyday afiairs. 

However, by our view of the difference between 'Jewish* 
and * Christian' faith and of the connexion between Jesus 
and the former, we have not yet done full justice to the 

'Love your enemies', it runs in the concise version of 
Matthew, *and pray for your persecutors, that you may 
become the sons of your Father in heaven*. To illustrate 
by paradox and with the help of a Greek conception, yet 
with the greatest possible faithfulness: men become what 
they are, sons of God, by becoming what they are, brothers 
of their brothers. 

Moses says to the people (Deut. xiv. i) : * Ye are sons of 
JHVH your God ... for ye are a people holy unto JHVH 
your God*. In the people holy unto God, because they are 
that and in so far as they are that, all men are sons of God. The 
prophets deny that the desecrated people belong to God, 
they are no longer JHVH's people (Hos. i. 9) ; but they 
promise (ii. i): 'Instead of it being said to them: "ye are 
not My people'*, it will be said to them: " sons of the living 


God!' 9 ' Through the new consecration of Israel Its people 
will be newly admitted into sonship. In a late yet pre- 
Christian book, the Book of Jubilees, the promise is ex- 
pressed in this way (L 23 f): 'Your soul will follow Me, 
they will do My commandment. I will be Father to them 
and they will be sons to Me. They will all be called sons of 
the living God. All angels and all spirits shall know and 
perceive that they are My sons and I am their Father in 
faith and truth, and that I love them'. There has come down 
from the first half of the second century after Christ a con- 
versation (Bab. Baba Batra 10) between Rabbi Akibah, 
imprisoned by the Romans, and a high Roman official; 
on the basis of a verse from Scripture the Roman asserts 
that the God of the Jews treats them as insubordinate slaves; 
Akibah refers against this to the ' Ye are sons ' , but the Roman 
sees in the difference between the two statements the differ- 
ence between two stages in the relationship to God: * If you 
do God's will you are called sons, if you do it not you are 
called slaves'. Still more precisely a Midrash text (Pesikta 
rabbati XXVH) holds: If thou doest His will, He is thy 
Father and thou art His son; if thou doest it not He is thine 
owner and thou art His slave*. The statement of Jesus about 
love to an enemy is to be seen in connexion with this 
process of a progressive dynamization of the sonship. But 
nowhere else is love to man precisely made the presupposi- 
tion of the realized sonship to God as here, and that in the 
tmheard-of simple form of this 'so that*, in the form, that is, 
of open entrance for everyone who really loves. Originating 
from the enthusiasm of eschatological actuality, this state- 
ment, viewed from the point of view of Israel's faith, im- 
plies at the same time a supplement to it. Somewhere, 
apparently quite on its own accord, the most daring arc 
has been described, and yet a circle has thereby been com- 
pleted. Seen in relation to the history of faith in Christianity, 


the arc must of course appear as the beginning of another 
figure, perhaps of an hyperbole. How this figure is con- 
tinued is shown to us in the sentence in the prologue of 
John's Gospel (L 12), where the Logos which appeared gives 
power to * those who believe on his name* to become chil- 
dren of God, and in the sentence related to this (i John v. i), 
declaring everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah to 
be 'born of God*, or already by Paul's direct speech to the 
converted Gentiles (Gal. iil 26) : "For ye are all sons of God 
through faith in Christ Jesus*. 

Entirely within Judaism and outside all Christian in- 
fluence the question, which has concerned us here, found 
in its three essential points at the threshold of our age a 
parallel answer in Hasidism. As the clearest examples three 
reports from the life of the Zaddikim, from leaders of the 
Hasidic body, may be cited. The first concerns the 'enemy* 
in general. A Zaddik commands his sons: 'Pray for enemies 
that things go well with them. And if you think, that is no 
service of God: know that more than any other prayer, 
this is service of God'. The second story concerns the extent 
of the idea of the "neighbour*. A Zaddik speaks to God: 
'Lord of the world, I beseech Thee that Thou mayest re- 
deem Israel. And if Thou wiliest it not, redeem the Gentiles ! * 
The third concerns the 'enemy of God'. A Zaddik is asked 
by a pupil whether one can love a person who rises up 
against God. He replies: 'Dost thou not know that the 
primeval soul came from God and that every human soul 
is a part of it? And when thou seest how one of the holy 
particles has become entangled and is near to be suffocated 
wilt thou not show mercy to it?' 

That the principle of love to the enemy in this instance 
has in such a way expanded in the pure form of faith, and 
not in a form essentially ethical, merely enjoined by God, 
is to be understood from the fact that even in Hasidism the 


messianic inspiration of Judaism made one of its high 
flights, and that without employing in general the form of 
eschatological actuality: paradoxically expressed, it is a 
messianism of continuity. Even the Hasidim, at all events 
those of the first generations, experience a nearness of God's 
rule, yet one which demanded not the readiness to change 
everything, but the continuity of a life of faith which was 
both enthusiastic and yet strove after the cohesion of the 



IT has become evident that Jesus, as he speaks in the 
Sermon on the Mount, considers the Torah capable of 
fulfilment, not merely in accordance with its wording, 
but in the original intention of its revelation. The first 
he has in common with Pharisaic Judaism, in the second he 
meets it in certain points again and again. That there are only 
points which cannot be combined into a line lies in the fact 
that the actual, so to speak experimental, capability of being 
fulfilled in the sense of *so far as thou, exerting thyself, art 
able to do here and now*, is for the Pharisees more than a 
position, it is their vital air. For Jesus quantum satis means: 
that which in the heart of God is looked for from men; 
the Pharisees, in the higher state of their teaching, start from 
Scripture ('with all thy might') : God expects from thee ful- 
filment according to thy nature and ability, He expects in 
the fulfilment *the direction of thy heart towards Him', 
not less, but also not more the individual shall will to love, 
for daily he experiences anew whom and how he is able to 
love even now, Paul on the contrary on the basis of that 


alleged *in all things' contests the fact that the Torah is 
capable of fulfilment at all; that he in this contradicts the 
teaching of Jesns also either did not enter his consciousness, 
or, as appears more likely to me, it is connected in a manner, 
the understanding for which we lack the equipment, with 
his resolve or his constraint not to know Christ any more 
* after the flesh*, and this would mean that what Jesus taught 
was admissible for the time during which he lived but not 
necessarily so for the quite different time after his crucifixion 
and resurrection. 

What is however decisive for our undertaking is not that 
Paul considered the Torah to be incapable of fulfilment, but 
that he meant and said that it was given not in order to be 
fulfilled but rather through its incapability of fulfilment to 
call forth sin 'in order that it might abound' (Rom. 
v. 20), that it, through the fact of the commandment, 'might 
become exceeding sinful' (vii. 13) and so prepare the way 
for grace. To be sure, so Paul thinks, as the will of God the 
Torah must be fulfilled; but its purpose is to cause man to 
whom it is given to be frustrated precisely by this impera- 
tive, so that he might submit to grace. Does the essence of 
sin consist now for Paul, as is interpreted by important 
instances, in that the individual 'who is subject to the law 
makes of his obedience a merit and a guarantee, that is, 
seeks to establish his own righteousness instead of submitting 
himself to God (Rom. x. 3) ? Or does Paul see, as he seems 
to me to have meant, that this indeed is something added, 
but he perceives the substance of sin in the psychic-factual 
transgression of the law through the inevitable 'concupi- 
scence' in the most comprehensive sense (which the Sermon 
on the Mount declares to be avoidable as earlier, in a 
stricter sense, the conclusion of the Decalogue forbids 
covetous envy as destroying community) e 1 At all events one 
1 C my book Moses, 133 

aim of the divine Lawgiver is here set forth as being to make 
His own law ineffectual. The words are about tablets which 
must and are bound to break in pieces in the hands of those 
for which they are appointed. 

This opinion of Paul's may claim to be regarded in con- 
iunction with his conception (which is influenced by various 
sources, yet is a unity) of the theocentric history of the 
cosmos and of man, which, on account of a reserve com- 
manded by the subject, he has nowhere summarized with 
entire clarity, and so his reader must bring it together care- 
fully from scattered statements. Paul himself understood 
this conception (Col. i. 26) as the mystery pre-determined 
by God, kept hidden before the aeons and die generations, 
which has been revealed in the appearing of the risen one 
(c Rom. xvi. 25) and is now transmitted in words and 
therein proclaimed by him, Paul, with fear and trembling. 
This mystery was in particular hidden from those (i Cor. 
ii. 7 ) who were assigned the principal roles in it, namely 
the spirits which Paul calls the riders of this aeon and whose 
leader he calls on occasion (2 Cor. iv. 4) the god of this 
aeon. For if they had known it 'they would not have cruci- 
fied the Lord of Glory* (i Cor. ii. 8), but this was destined 
for them in the mystery so that thereby they help to achieve 
its realization and to promote their own overthrow. 

This aeon is in hands other than God's. For a period 
determined by Him, God has delivered up the lordship of 
the world to the spirits of the elements (Gal. iv. 2 , 9), in 
order that they in themselves only weakly and miserable 
as guardians and trustees arouse in the creation which is 
'placed under' their 'nothingness' the desire to become free 
children of God (Rom. viii. 19 f). God in the creation has 
put into man's 'flesh' and'members* the'otherlaw' (vii, 18, 
21 flf. ) which is equally contrary to the divine will and to human 
reason and apparently identical with the Old Testament 


'evil imagination of the heart' (Gen, viii. 21, c vi. 5). Man, 
fallen by the seduction of Satan who had disguised himself 
as an angel of light (2 Cor. xL 14) and now given over by 
God to die 'lusts' and 'shameful passions' (Rom. i. 24, 26), 
has, by reason of 'the spirit of the world' (i Cor. ii. 12) and 
'the spirit of bondage* (Rom. viii. 15) which he receives 
from these 'powers and forces', enslaved himself to them. 
The gift of the law to Israel occupies a significant and 
indeed central position in this process, the purpose of which 
is the redemption of man and world; this law has not been 
'ordained' immediately by God but by angels (Gal. iiL 19). 
They employ now the law which is in itself 'holy ' (Rom. 
vii. 12) but incapable of overcoming the 'other' law (viii. 3), 
in order to make man self-righteous, that he may be for- 
feited completely to them, and the law, contrary to the 
original designation which was announced to Israel (c 
Gal. iii. n), is no longer something which gives life and no 
longer effects, as was intended, the justification of man 
(v. 21), but sin and wrath (Rom. iv. 15); the prohibition 
against covering (Exod. xx. 17 ) provides the opportunity 
for sin to excite concupiscence (Rom. vii. 8), man no longer 
knows what he is doing (v. 15) and is 'taken captive' (v. 23). 
But the angels, by what they bring about, merely serve the 
purpose of God, Who had caused the law 'to come in 
besides', 'so that the transgression multiplies' and grace can 
hereafter 'overflow' (v. 20). So the Jews are 'kept in capti- 
vity under the law', and that which they presumed to have 
in their possession as 'the embodiment of knowledge and 
of truth' (ii. 20) castigates them as a severe task-master 
(Gal. iii. 23 f ). It works 'death' instead of Hfe, for the 'sting 
of death is the transgression, but the strength of the trans- 
gression is the law' (i Cor. xv. 56). All this is taking place 
to prepare the coming of Christ (Gal. iii. 22). For with the 
appearing of Christ, whom God for the sake of His purpose 


'delivered up 1 (Rom. viii. 32) to die rulers of this aeon in 
the concealing 'form of a slave* (Phil. ii. 7), and who now 
'conquers* (i Cor. xv. 24) and disarms (Col. ii. 15) all 
authorities and powers and 'delivers up* the dominion of the 
world to God (i Cor. xv. 24, the same verb was used for the 
handing over of man to the evil and of Christ to the 'rulers'), 
the emancipating faith in him is offered to the Jews, whose 
law, the 'note of hand*, has been fastened to his cross (Col. ii. 
14). True he is only received by the 'remnant* known to the 
prophets, which grace has elected (Rom. xi. 5), but the rest 
have 'been made hardened* (v. 7), for *God hardens whom 
He will* (ix. 18), but when they see the salvation of the 
Gentiles who have been set free from the service of the sprats 
of the elements, they will become envious (xi. n) and with 
their grafting again into their own good olive-tree (v. 24) the 
whole fulness of the blessing will come upon the world. 

The Gnostic nature of the essential features of this con- 
ception is obvious the derivative powers, which, puling 
the world, work against the primal divine power and way- 
lay the human soul, the enslavement of the cosmos, the 
problematic character of the law, the overcoming of the 
'rulers' and the setting-free of man and it has not to be 
discussed genetically here. None of this concerns the God- 
head, but the intermediate being set up or permitted by Him. 
Nevertheless to the God of whom Paul treats there adhere 
two shadows mysteriously bound together, which are both 
borrowed from the Old Testament, but which are deepened 
into something dreadful: the will to 'harden* and the double 
character of the purpose in the giving of the law. We must 
inquire into them. 

In the story of the Egyptian plagues Pharaoh is wont at 
times after the visitation is over, to 'make* -his heart 'ob- 
durate* or to 'harden* it or to 'brace* it. But before the 
seventh plague begins a new motive appears: by this time 


JHVH 'hardens' or * braces' the heart of the king who is 
tending to yield, as He had already proclaimed to Moses 
in the burning thorn-bush. For He wishes to show His signs 
(Exod. x. i) and 'be glorified upon Pharaoh' (xiv. 4, 17): 
'the Egyptians shall know that I am JHVH' (this means, 
unlike their gods, the truly Present-One). The number of 
repetitions worked out by the redactor 1 refers, as so often, to 
the theological meaning of the matter. God is ever con- 
cerned to bring the man who strives against Him to his 
senses up to the turning-point where he himself begins to 
equip his resisting heart with inflexible strength for a re- 
newed resistance, for now it is no longer a matter of bending 
the evil will but of determined destruction: now God 
grants the sinner, not in silence but in open declaration, the 
special strength to persevere in the sin. It is obvious that an 
extreme situation in the most exact sense is here concerned, 
in which it is paradigmatically given to know that sin is 
not |n undertaking which man can break off when the 
situation becomes critical, but a process started by him, the 
control of which is withdrawn from him at a fixed moment. 
After this statement we hear of a strengthening or harden- 
ing of the human heart by God only on two other occasions, 
both likewise in the Hexateuch (Deut. ii. 30, Joshua xi. 20), 
and both in stories of wars in Canaan: to the peoples which 
had been condemned to destruction because of the mysteri- 
ous 'iniquity of the Amorites' (Gen. xv. i6) 2 strength is 
granted to continue the struggle to the end. This also must 
obviously be noted and understood: it concerns a sinfulness 
of their religious tradition itself which had become inherent 
and indomitable in the life of these people. 

1 The text speaks of the * bracing' of Pharaoh's heart seven times, of 
the Egyptians' once, and of the actual 'hardening' once. 

2 C Buber and Rosenzweig, Die Schrift und ihre Verdeutschung, 61, 
where I have shown that sexual cults and rites are meant. 

Yet once more Scripture speaks of a hardening, of one 
which indeed Is not like the former caused or to be caused 
by God directly, but one enjoined by Him on a prophet, 
this time not a hardening of the heart but of the ears, yet in 
conjunction with a * fattening* of the heart: in Isaiah's 
account of his vision in the temple (vi. 10). If we compare 
it with his account of a later period (chap, viii) we find that 
he is commanded to make large, by the proclamation of the 
messianic message of salvation among the people, the sense 
of immovable security and so to contribute to their harden- 
ing. In this case it is tie people, chosen by God themselves, 
who shall be hardened, and this is due to the fact that they 
hear the true Word of God. God has already too often let 
Israel be warned that it should turn back to Him and to no 
purpose, all too often already He has stricken them in vain, 
now, as He once said to the young Isaiah (i. 14), He has 
become weary of bearing that which is intolerable: He no 
longer desires the turning of this generation, He will even 
hinder them, promising the people salvation in all the 
disasters which come and so hardening them into a false 
confidence which prevents their turning to Him. What 
such a design and such a request mean to the messenger, is 
declared by his resolve, expressed in his account (viii. 16-19), 
to withhold from the people for the time being the message 
of salvation, which he dare not suppress, and to entrust it to 
his * disciples* alone, to *tie it up' and to 'seal* it as 'testi- 
mony* and 'instruction* among them, until in the hour of 
crisis, of 'darkness* (v. 22), when the time is come: 'To the 
instruction! to the testimony!* (t/, 20), he may unseal and 
untie it, and make it known. 1 

Here, with the fearful commission of God to His prophet, 
Paul sets forth. But he makes God's will to harden Israel 

1 For this cf. the chap. 'The Theopolitical Hour' in my book The 
Prophetic Faith (1949). 

begin to take effect on Sinai itself, at the time, that is, when 
it becomes Israel and His people. For the sake of His plan of 
salvation God hardens all the generations of Israel, from that 
assembled on Sinai to that around Golgotha, with the 
exception of His chosen 'Election 9 (Rom. xi 7). 

Paul quotes (ix. 17) a saying of God to the Pharaoh who 
was hardened by Him. He premises it (v. 15) with the saying 
to Moses (Exod. xxxiii. 19): 'I am gracious to whom I am 
gracious, and I show mercy to whom I show mercy*. The 
saying means implicitly that grace will not be dictated to 
as to who is worthy of it. But Paul does not wish to read 
this from it, but (v. 18) : ' So He has mercy on whom He will, 
and whom He will He hardens 5 . That is to say: as the mercy 
is God's alone, so the hardening is His alone; as the mercy 
is unfathomable to human understanding, so also is the 
hardening; as the mercy does not need to be 'caused', so 
neither does the hardening. In the Old Testament meaning 
the hardening intervenes in an extreme situation in life, an 
extreme perversion in the relation of an individual or a 
nation to God, and makes it, dreadfully enough, into an 
inevitable destiny, makes the going-astray into a state of 
having gone-astray from which there is no returning; in 
Paul's usage however the process of hardening in general 
no longer cares about the men and the generations of men 
which it affects, but uses them and uses diem up for higher 
ends. Contrary to the Old Testament Paul's God does not 
have regard for the people to whom He speaks out of the 
cloud, or rather causes His angels to speak. 

Paul obviously derived also from tie Old Testament the 
decisive stimulus for his conception of the means which his 
God makes use of in the hardening of Israel. 

Ezekiel, the prophet of unconditional personal responsi- 
bility and therefore of the absolutely real freedom of man 
before God, knew of no hardening from above. The house 


of Israel is hardened (ii. 4, Hi. ?), but It has not been hardened. 
Man and nation, endowed from the beginning and without 
exception "with the capability for unlimited and quite real 
decision, axe judged by God, but not for anything in the 
occurrence of which He had a hand either by indirect 
(Pharaoh) or direct (Isaiah) influence. God gave His creature 
freedom at the creation and He does not dispute its freedom, 
but makes it thereby fully responsible to Him. To bring 
home to the hearer of the Word that this is the actual con- 
dition of his life constitutes the content (which is modified 
according to changing persons and situations) of the warning 
which the prophet is at times summoned to proclaim (iii. 
17 f). The restraint of God which renders human freedom 
possible is therefore not to be understood as though He 
allowed that which He introduced into the world to be 
without direction as to which was the right way and which 
the wrong. Indeed, He gives the people chosen by Him 
direction in the form of 'statutes and ordinances', of such a 
nature that the man who fulfils them gains life thereby 
(xx. u, cf. Lev, xviii. 5). But the people do not follow the 
way shown to them, they reject the direction and with it, 
life (vv. 13 and 21), although they are admonished time and 
again. Then God gives them 'statutes and ordinances not- 
good, 1 through which they do not gain life* and makes 
them unclean through their gifts, 'because they bring over 
every first opening of the womb*, every firstborn (v. 25 ). 
Since shortly before in the book (xvi. 20 f.) and shortly 
after (xxiii," 37, 39 2 ) the sacrifice of children is reckoned as 
the greatest guilt of the people, it would be a most patent 

* The meaning is: which, become not-good. 

1 This form of repetition, which I might describe as henneneutic 
framing, the purpose of which is to prevent misinterpretation or even 
directly to point to the correct meaning, is not unusual; cf. e.g. the 
framing of Exod. iii. 14 f. by iii. 12 and iv. 12. 


contradiction of EzekieTs doctrine of responsibility if lie 
declared that this sacrifice was commanded by God. There- 
fore the commandment to bring over * every first opening 
of the womb* (Exod. xiii I2) 1 which was determined for 
the period after the possession of the land can only be tinder- 
stood here as 'given* to the people in this form of words, 
because this does not exclude its misinterpretation and 
misuse: in extreme necessity any person, referring to the 
commandment and at the same time to the custom of neigh- 
bouring peoples (2 Kings iii. 27, xvi. 3) and perhaps even to 
the tradition of Abraham, may have thought himself able 
to soften the heart of God when he exceeded by sacrifice 
(c Mic. vi 7) the conceded equivalent, namely the bare 
dedication and ransom by the alleged fulfilment of the sur- 
render demanded by sacrifice. By the c not good' character 
of such statutes is therefore meant their latent ambiva- 
lence, that is the occasion which they afford for false inter- 
pretation: God makes a claim which He at once modifies 
symbolically, but the claim is cast in the form of a word and 
it remains to the individual freely to imagine that satisfying 
it literally is superior to the conceded equivalent So the 
disobedient are punished by the possibility of perverse 

Paul fitted into his conception of the world-process what 
he found in Ezekiel, in that he transferred that which applied 
to the individual commandment to the whole range of the 
law, that which applied to a few generations to every one 
up to his own, and that which was a possibility to a necessity, 
for die law according to him is incapable of fulfilment be- 
cause in his opinion it is intended to be fulfilled only as a 
whole ('in all things'), and its non-fulfilment, which is 
unavoidable in this sense, stands under the curse. And this 

1 The whole expression (with die verb 'to bring over') only appears in 
these two references in Scripture. 


motif, which was thus changed about, was combined by 
him with the changed motif of the hardening. In order to 
harden Israel and for the benefit of the plan of salvation, 
'until the fulness of the Gentiles is brought in 5 (Rom. xi. 25), 
God, whom Paul speaks of as the God of Israel, gave them 
the law in order to cause them to be frustrated by the fact 
of it being incapable of fulfilment. He has actually *shut 
them all in unbelief, the Gentiles without the law and the 
Jews who possess it, *so that He might have mercy upon 
all', (v. 32). 

When I contemplate this God I no longer recognize the 
God of Jesus, nor his world in this world of Paul's. 1 For 
Jesus, who was concerned with the individual human soul 
and with every single human soul, Israel was not a universal 
entity with such and such an appointed function in the plan 
of the world, nor was it for him the mere totality of Jews 
living in his day and who stood in a certain relationship to 
his message: every soul which had lived from Moses to 
himself belonged in concrete to it. In his view for everyone 
of them, when they had gone astray, turning was allowed, 

1 Buhmann's view ( Theologk desNeuen Testaments, 3) that the preaching 
of Jesus is in line with the apocalyptic hope, the presupposition of which 
is *the pessimistic-dualistic perception of the satanic corruption of the 
whole course of the world*, seems to me to be insufficiently founded. 
The only word of Jesus cited for this, *I saw Satan fall as lightning from 
heaven* (Luke x. 18) belongs to Isaiah xiv. 12, not to Rev. xii. 8 The 
image of the world shown here is the prophetic, not the apocalyptic. 
The principle, which causes contradiction and corruption and which is 
hurled down from the circle of the powers, never governed the structure 
of the world in this image. Like the prophets, Jesus sees this aeon as 
that in which powers struggle, not as that of a rule of evil. In the world 
there is a kingdom of Satan (Luke xi. 18), which opposes the coming of 
the kingdom of God, but the world only contains it, it is not it. There- 
fore the one called to overcome it (v. 22, c 2 Sam. xxiii. 7, the saying 
about the mgti who shall strike the worthless, beliyaal, and is 'invested 
with spearhead and shaft*) can be chosen from mankind itself. 


and everyone of them when they did turn back, was the 
lost son returned home. His God was the same Who, though 
He might at times also 'harden' and perhaps even at times 
give a statute which was *not good', yet answered in every 
generation to the person interposing for Israel: *I have 
pardoned according to thy words' (Num. xiv. 20). In 
Paul's conception of God, where the generations of souls 
in Israel from Moses to Jesus are concerned, this character- 
istic is supplanted by another, which alters everything. I 
do not venture to give it a name. 

In our era a philosopher, Hegel, has torn the Pauline 
conception away from its root in the actuality of faith and 
transplanted it into the system in which now die god of the 
philosophers, 'Reason', forces by its 'ruse' the historical 
process unwittingly to urge on its perfection. 


found a critical attitude towards 

% /m / E 
m / m / * 

\f %/ kut a ^ ^ J^ 115 ' 2 s we ^ 2 s am( >ng the 
? f Pharisees. The works which are criticized 
in this and that place are nevertheless of a different kind, 
in part of a fundamental difference. For the Pharisees they 
are those done without the doer directing his heart to 
Goi Jesus means the works a person finds prescribed 
and which are done as prescribed, without recognizing 
the purpose of God enshrined in the precept and without 
rising to it in doing them. Paul meant by 'the works of the 
law* chiefly those in the performance of which the individual 
is deceived into thinking that he obtains merit before God 
and becomes righteous; but behind this there exists for him 
the whole problem of the law as a *lawof sin and death', to 
which is opposed henceforth and now for the first time the 
'Spirit-law of life in Christ Jesus' (Roiru viiL 2) which 
sets one free, and is now and only now revealed, so that in 
the end all works done for the fulfilling of the kw apart 
from faith in Jesus as the Christ are rejected for ever, That 


'he who loves his neighbour has fulfilled the law* and there- 
fore love is the fulfilling of the law* (Rom. xiii. 8, 10, cf. 
Gal. v. 14) is to be sure spoken in the spirit of Jesus, and 
Jesus in this consideration has not deviated from the teaching 
of the Pharisees; but even love, the fulfilling of the law, is 
not valid for Paul as fulfilment of the law, but only when 
it is through faith in Jesus as the Christ. 

The life-problem of the man who comes from the world 
of the 'law* is therefore for the Pharisees and Jesus: how do 
I get from an apparent life in the revealed will of God to a 
true life in it, which leads to eternal life? The difference is 
that * revealed' means for the Pharisees: through the histori- 
cal revelation in the Word brought into the tradition of 
Israel and manifest in it; for Jesus however the tradition of 
Israel has not adequately preserved the historical revelation 
in the Word, but now it is adequately disclosed in its mean- 
ing and purpose. For Paul however man's problem, derived 
from the 'law', is: how do I get from a life from the revela- 
tion in the Word, a" life which of necessity becomes false 
owing to its ambivalence and its counter-law implanted in 
me, to true life into which the will of God for me enters 

The specific answer which was developed among the 
Pharisees is the lishmah doctrine, which is narrowly con- 
nected with that of the 'direction of the heart', and yet 
goes beyond it. The meaning of this doctrine has already 
been repeatedly referred to, 1 but it cannot too often be done. 
Lishmah means: for the sake of the thing itself. By this word 
there is expressed first of all the fact that man should learn 
the Torah for its own sake and not because of what it 
yields; he is to fulfil the commandment for its own sake 

1 The most important texts are assembled in their proper sequence 
according to meaning (which I retain) by Schechter, Some Aspects of 
Rabbinic Theory (1909), 160 


and not for its advantageous consequences; constantly the 
note is clearly sounded; for die sake of the teaching, for the 
sake of -what is commanded, and thus it is as mentioned 
comprehensively expressed: 'All thy works should be for 
the sake of God*. The only thing which matters is that 
everything should be done truly for God's sake, from love 
to Him and in love to Him. The decisive force of the 'for 
His sake* penetrates into a depth in the relation of man to 
the Torah, in which this makes known an ambivalence 
whose tension is not less than that maintained by Paul, but 
without, as in his case, the faithfulness of the Revealer to 
the human person as such becoming questionable on the 
contrary, the effect of the Torah is placed directly in the 
hands of this person. The Torah is not an objectivum inde- 
pendent of the actual relationship of man to God, which 
would bestow of itself life upon the one who receives it: 
it does that only to one who receives it for its sake in its 
living actuality, that is, in its association with its Giver, and 
for His sake. To the man who engages in it for some other 
reason the Torah 'breaks his neck* (Bab. Taanit ya). Not 
that there are different parts of the Torah, which effect good 
and bad: the same words * enliven* the one who does it 
'for its sake* and 'slay' the one who does not do it 'for its 
sake' (Sifra on Dt. 32. 2). If accordingly, as is emphasized 
(Midrash Tehillim on Ps. xxxi. 9), the real difference 'be- 
tween a righteous man and a wicked one' (Mai. iii. 18) is to 
be recognized just at this point, it must nevertheless be 
borne in mind at the same time that the possibility is given to 
every wicked man in 'turning* to attain to the stage 'upon 
which those who are completely righteous are not able to 
stand* (Bab. Berachot 34-b). The dynamic character of the 
Hshmah doctrine is only here fully disclosed: it is not con- 
cerned with two types of men who are opposed to each other, 
but with two human attitudes to the divine manifestation, 


which arc to be sure fundamentally different and yet so 
related to each other that a way can lead from the 
negative attitude to the positive. Since it does not lie within 
the will of man to do what he does for God's sake and yet it 
does lie within his will both to learn the Torah and to keep 
its commandments, he must therefore begin to do both so 
far as he is able, in such a way that the *for the sake of the 
thing* is given to him merely as a direction and not yet as 
motive. If he seriously does what he can he will 'advance 
from the "not for its sake" to the "for its sake" 1 (Bab. 
Berachot lya). 

In the place where this doctrine is found amongst the 
Pharisees, that is as the answer to man's life-problem, there is 
found in Jesus the summons to follow himself. Since, over 
against the current tradition of Israel, he referred to the 
undefaced purpose of the Revealer as that which had been 
made known to him (*But I say unto you') his answer 
could be only a personal one. By the proclamation of the 
rule of God which is come near, as it were has come within 
range, he had aimed at calling the people in Israel to it, 
especially the 'sinners' (Mark i. 17 par.), so that they, 
healed by him, may 'take it by force' (Matt. xi. 12) through 
the storming power of their turning. Contrary to the 
Pharisaic teaching known to jis to be sure only through 
later utterances that one ought 'not to force the end', 
this maxim declares that the kingly grace, which even now 
inclines to the world of men, expects in return the greatest 
effort to meet it, to enter into it and to make it by this into 
an earthly reality; the sinners who are turning must stand 
in the centre of this effort, since no power on earth is equiva- 
lent to that of turning. 1 What he says to the crowd is directed 

1 Schweitzer, Das Alenctmahl n (1901), 27, goes however too far when 
he says of this that *a pressure as it were* is intended which is exercised 
to 'force* the kingdom of God *to become apparent*. R. Otto's words 


to those still concealed in it who ought to follow him. 
When he meets one or other of them alone or in pairs 
apart from his preaching, perhaps at work, and recog- 
nizes them as ones who belong to him, he calls to them: 
'Come after me* or * Follow me*. They follow him. What 
this following means however becomes clear when (Mark 
x. 17. ff. par.) one, who is no sinner but who knows 
that he has kept the commandments and yet does not 
find the way to eternal life, steps out from the crowd to 
him and questions him; Jesus replies that he must sell 
everything and give to the poor, and then 'Come, follow 
me*. That is, he is to be concerned now, in the peri- 
helium of grace, to hold on to nothing, to allow nothing 
else to prevent him from meeting it, but to become free 
for storming the rule of God as he does who goes before 
and whom one ought to follow. Jesus says this more 
radically still to the crowd, after he has called them 
together 'with his disciples also* (Mark viiL 34), obviously 
so as to make entirely clear to those amongst them who 
belong to him that they ought to come over to him, as 
well as to the disciples themselves, what is required of 
those who follow: it is a question of * abandoning them- 
selves', getting free of themselves, 'self * meant as the epitome 
of everything to which a man is attached; this is the proper 
expression for the surrender, to make one's self free. No 
general verbal definition of the way leads beyond this pre- 
liminary condition of following, but only die way itself. 
The highest effort is not to be paraphrased; a man comes 
to know it in the actual following. In following a man attains 
to true life in the revealed will of God. Jesus speaks from the 
being and consciousness of the man who has 'abandoned 

seem to me correct (Reich Gottes und Menschensohn, 87): 'only by 
summoning all one's power, and with the most strenuous determination, 
does one penetrate into it*. 


himself* ; therefore he can give this personal answer instead 
of an objective one. 

The fiery centre in the history of Christianity is the en- 
deavour to keep this following alive after the death of 
Jesus. In order to bridge the interval Paul summons to an 
indirect following (i Cor. xL i) 1 : *Be my imitators, as I am 
of Christ'. The Johannine circle, because it is 'the last time 5 
(i John ii. 1 8), believes that it can preserve the direct follow- 
ing (ii. 6): 'to abide in him' means to walk as he walked; 
for John's Gospel (xiii. 15), emphatically going beyond the 
Synoptics, had made Jesus say : * I have given you an example, 
that you should do even as I have done to you'. The example 
is passed on from generation to generation chiefly through 
living recollection; but also after the recollection is broken 
generation after generation produces for itself the picture 
as something to be imitated, and in later times as often as 
the presentiment of the end of time becomes strong the 
stimulus to follow becomes strong too. 

Of course neither Paul nor anyone other than Jesus him- 
self could offer this following as the answer to man's life- 
problem. Whoever asked about the how, from him Jesus 
demanded that he should join him, and when the challenge 
touched the man's very heart, 'he went after him' and 
shared his life. This simple going-before could not be re- 
placed by any command to follow the Master. The answer 
which Paul gave to the life-question of the man who came 
from the world of 'law' and wanted to attain to true life in 
the revealed will of God and the answer with which he 
anticipated this question was the summons to have faith in 
Christ. In this way he did precisely what Jesus, in so far as 
we know him from the Synoptic tradition, did not do, and 
whatever was the case with his 'messianic consciousness', 

1 The usual theological distinction between following and imitating 
does not affect the course of our argument. 


obviously did not wish to do. He might indeed cry to the 
disciples in the ship when they were alarmed at the storm 
(Mark iv. 4) *Why are ye fearful ? have ye still no faith?' 
But what he missed in that case if one disregards the 
miracle-story 1 with which the saying has been conjoined 
was merely that unconditional trust in the grace which 
makes a person no longer afraid even of death because death 
is also of grace. Afterwards Jesus does indeed ask whom he 
is considered to be, but he does not desire that a man should 
hold him to be anyone in particular. The situation for Paul 
is that a man shall recognize Jesus with all the strength of 
faith to be the one whom he proclaims as the door to salva- 
tion. This is indeed 'the word of faith which we preach' 
and that to which 'the word is nigh to thee' from the 
Torah is referred (Rom. x. 9): 'If thou shalt confess with 
thy mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in thy heart that 
God has raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved'. To 
be sure, much more than this is necessary, but everything, 
even that which is most extreme, the 'dying with Christ' in 
the midst of life, is necessary from this starting-point: for it 
means the Risen-one (Rom. v. 8 ), it is based upon faith in 
his resurrection. And this faith is a 'belief that' in the 
pregnant sense of the word, 2 which is essentially different 

1 1 use the concept in the meaning of the critical section of Bultmann's 
important essay *Zur Frage des Wunders*, according to which the idea 
of miracle lias become impossible and must be given up, because of the 
'impossibility of conceiving as real an event contra naturam* (Bultmann, 
Glaulen und Versteheti, 1933, 216: c also his *Neues Testament und 
Mythologie' in the symposium Kerygma und Mythos, 1948, 18). 

2 Wissmann, Das Verhaeltnis von iricms und Christusfroemmigheit lei 
Paulus (1926), 39, says rightly: 'The faith which for Paul and his congre- 
gations constitutes the essence of a Christian is above all entirely believing 
(fuerwahrhaltender) faith*. (Wissmann however considers quite wrongly 
that this is the essence of late-Judaistic religion, as can be proved from 
most of the references cited by him for this from Hellenistic Judaism.) 

G 97 

from the faith of the Jews that on Sinai a divine revelation 
took place, as it signifies the acceptance of the reality of an 
event, which is not destined, like the former, to confirm 
and strengthen the hereditary actuality of faith of the 
Jewish person who hears about it, but fundamentally to 
change it. 

If one would understand the nature of the faith which 
Paul demands, it is indeed quite correct to proceed from 
faith in the resurrection of Jesus. The conception of the 
divine world-plan is entirely dependent upon the resurrec- 
tion (or the ascension from the cross) : if it had not succeeded 
the death of the one crucified by the angel-powers, who 
are the rulers of this aeon, they would have overcome God 
and frustrated His work of salvation. It is therefore quite 
consistent when the apostle (i Cor. xv. I f, n) first brings 
home to the Corinthians that the resurrection of Christ is 
the chief article of his preaching and their faith, and then 
(v. 14), his language becoming ever more daring, declares: 
'But if Christ has not been raised then our preaching is vain 
and your faith also is vain 5 . The resurrection of Jesus, as the 
one preceding the resurrection of the dead in the form of its 
first-fruits (v. 20, c Col. i. 18), is the beginning of the 
victory of God already promised in the Old Testament 
prophecy (Is. xxv. 8) over 'the last enemy* (i Cor. xv. 26), 
over death as the principle of those powers in whose hands 
the world is; through the resurrection Christ is appointed 
*as the Son of God in power* (Rom. i. 4). The central 
character of belief in it is obvious. It has been pointed out 1 

Bultmann in Theologie desNeuen Testaments, 310 ff., has not been able to 
convince me that Paul understood pistis primarily as an act of obedience; 
it is however undoubtedly to the point that pistis in a decisive way here 
means 'acceptance of the message*. 

1 Goguel, Trois &tudes sur la pensfe religieuse du Christianisme primitif 
(1931), 37- 


that without it, if the disciples had merely kept the expecta- 
tion that the Master would rise at some future time with all 
the dead, then perhaps a reformation of Judaism might have 
taken place, but certainly not a new religion; in point of 
fact every true reformatio intends precisely that which found 
its strongest expression in the sayings of Jesus which begin 
with 'But I say unto you' : to return to tie original purity 
of the revelation. 

There is much to be said for the view 1 that in the period 
after the death of Jesus the idea of his ascension from the 
cross existed alongside that of his resurrection, and indeed 
preceded it the idea of a removal, analogous to that told in 
the Old Testament of Enoch and Eliah., later also of Moses 
and others. The rise of this idea which might more im- 
mediately result in the explanation of the visions of the 
Exalted One rather than the other has been facilitated by 
the fact that from the legendary tradition according to which 
the chosen servants were removed by a personal intervention 
of God, a divine 'taking' (Gen. v. 24, 2 Kings ii. 3, 5. 9 f.) 
of the living body, has been spiritualized in the hope of the 
Psalmists: when they say (Ps. xlix. 17, Ixxui. 24) that God 
will 'take' them instead of letting them sink into the under- 
world, they mean that He will raise *up their souls in death. 
'If this idea', writes Johannes Weiss, as it appears to me 
correctly, 'had become generally dominant, we should 
have heard nothing at all about a resurrection'. A pre- 
Pauline mission which was based on this conception may 
have won Jews by means of it, as it would not be difficult 

1 Cf. Johannes Weiss, Das Urchristentum (1917), 19, and Das Problem 
der Entstehung des Christentum, Archiv Jiter Retigionswissenschaft XVI 
(1913), 474 f; Bertram, Die Himmelfahrt Jesu vom Kreuz aus 9 Festgabe 
Juer Deissmann (1927), 187 f, c also Scbrade, Zur Ikonographie der 
Himmelfahrt Christi, Vortraege der Bibliothek Warburg, 1928-1929 (1930), 
75 ff, as well as Rudolf Otto, Aufsaetze dasNuminose betreffend (1923), 


for them to place a third alongside the two who had been 
removed to heaven. However the Idea of the resurrection 
was already In the centre of Paul's mission, although that 
motif still operated In him, and of course resurrection alone 
could be used for a coherent statement of the events. The 
Jew of the time, the majority of whom were Pharisaic in 
matters of faith, believed to be sure in the final resurrection 
of the dead as a great community; but the resurrection of an 
individual In the course of history was unknown to him from 
Scripture (the legends of the miracles of coming to life 
again do not apply here, because in them the decisive point, 
the rising again from being lost In the underworld, is missing) 
and he could not in general make himself believe in it: 
the peculiarly austere realism of the Jew in things of the 
body and physical death could be conquered by an eschato- 
logical view of the whole, but only rarely 1 by contradictory- 
reports of an individual instance. On the contrary the 
Hellenistic "heathen's* belief in the dying and rising gods of 
the Mysteries opened the way; the message, that now in his 
own life-time such a one had lived, died and risen in the 
little land with the curious traditions, transferred this belief 
from the mythical remoteness of symbols and mystic dis- 
appearance of experiences into the ordinary world, and in 
this way provided his need for a concrete relationship with 
the sphere of the gods with a unique impulse, which in- 
creasingly overcame the opposition of the rational instances. 
The Corinthians who opposed refused to believe, not that 
Christ was risen, but that the dead as a whole will rise, and 
Paul met them with an argument, which apparently did 
not seem conclusive to them (i Cor. xv. 16), that if the 
former is not true then the latter is neither. The resurrection 
of the individual is incredible to Jews, that of the mass ('the 

1 So Acts ii. 27, 31 might be understood, If we could consider the 
Pentecost narrative in extenso to be historical. 


resurrection of the dead' Acts xvii. 32) to Greeks; for them 
resurrection is an affair of the gods of the Mysteries and 
their kind one only needs to make the Christ the God- 
man to make him credible to them. Hellenistic Judaism on 
the other hand, which knew how to comprehend ingenious- 
ly Greek speculation and that dimension of life which was 
determined by tradition alongside each other, appears to 
have remained as a whole unresponsive to the message of 
the resurrection of Christ. The apostolate, which of neces- 
sity suppressed the idea of removal by that of the resurrec- 
tion, and so demanded from the Jews an act of faith hardly 
capable of being effected, decided, without desiring it, 
for the Gentiles. As the risen-one who gave himself to be 
seen by the vanquished angel-powers and to whom they 
are henceforth subordinate (Eph. L 21, i Pet. iii. 22), Christ 
has now been 'preached among the Gentiles* (i Tim. iii. 16). 



BUT the motif of removal leads to something even 
more important, the consideration of which will 
be useful to our concern of comparing two kinds 
of faith. We must touch at the same time upon the 
enigma, which in the end may well be reckoned insoluble, 
and which has been called the ' self-consciousness' of Jesus. 
What this glance at his personal connexion with the Jewish 
world of faith will bring us to is necessarily hypothetical, 
yet is capable of helping towards the clarification of the 

Critical research tends to refer all that the gospels make 
Jesus say about the suffering and death which await him 
before the journey to Jerusalem to the category of vatidnia 
ex eventu. That certainly applies to the sacral formula which 
is repeated three times in all the Synoptics (Mark viii. 31, 
ix. 31, x. 33 par.), ascending to an even more urgent tone 
first 'suffer much', then 'be given over into the hands of 
men', finally introduced by 'Behold, we go up to Jeru- 
salem'. But such, in my opinion, is not the case with a 


variant of the first of these statements, 1 which Luke (xvii 
25) has preserved as belonging to the journey to Jerusalem 
and he alone (that he alone has not simply replaced the 
sentence, like Mark and Matthew, with the dogmatic 
formula, but allowed it to stand alongside it, is no evidence 
against its genuineness). Referring to the prediction known 
also to Matthew (xxiv. 27) about die flashing lightning 
(t/. 30 understands it as a 'revealing') of the 'Son of Man * 
who was previously hidden the wording of which in 
Matthew sounds more Greek, but in Luke more Semitic 
it runs: s First however he must suffer much and be rejected 
by this generation'. Both 'suffer much' and *be rejected* we 
know also from the formula, but how much smoother and 
more historical it sounds here without all 'the elders and 
high-priests and scribes* ! And, read with the saying about 
the lightning, how much more natural and sensible the 
allusion to the elsewhere variously quoted verse of the 
Psalm (cxviii. 22) about the 'rgected* stone which has be- 
come the corner-stone ! The connexion between the present 
hidden and the future revealed condition of the 'Son of 
Man* 'in His day' 2 is here, in opposition to the precision of 
the resurrection-formula, left in doubt, obviously because 
the mind of the speaker was uncertain. He knew himself as 

1 Also I cannot think that Luke xii. 50 is not genuine, if only we 
detach it from a context foreign to it (cf '. Wellhausen on the passage) 
in distinction from Matt. xx. 22 , where the same tradition appears in a 
later modification although I do not know any satisfactory interpreta- 
tion of the statement. I cannot conceive how it could have originated in 
the primitive community (or even in the Hellenistic church). 

2 This of course does not mean that *his* day is put in the pkce of the 
Old Testament 'Day of JHVH* (Bousset, Kyrios Christos, 12): it is the 
day of his becoming revealed. Also it does not follow that Jesus by the 
figure of the lightning 'made his own person a myth*: the author of 
Is. xlii. 7 f. would have been able to say the same about the day of his 
future becoming revealed, the *day of salvation \ 


die prophet of the coming Basileia and at die same time as 
Its appointed human centre (Matt. xL 5, Luke vii 22, c 
Is. xlil 7 and Ixi. 2); the crowd who were eager to hear 
recognized him as the former, but only the devotion of the 
disciples confirmed him as the latter, and he now knew from 
experience ttat the power granted him to-day was not that 
sufficientfor the work of mediator of the kingdom. He knew 
himself as existing in the state of concealment Is the trans- 
formation imminent in the course of life, so that he may 
flash as unexpectedly as the lightning be made to flash? 
Will the voice which once summoned him (that the baptism 
in Jordan was accompanied by a personal experience of 
faith for him of such a kind need not be doubted, in spite 
of the legendary character of the narrative) testify to him 
before the flock of men which he shall unite into the core 
of the kingdom? Or must the transition be of a different 
kind? The statement which is surely in the wrong place 
chronologically about the wedding-guests from whom 
the bridegroom is 'taken' 1 away (Mark ii 19 f. par.) appears 
to me to go back to a genuine tradition, even if it can no 
longer be reconstructed. 2 Will he be * taken' like Enoch and 
Eliah, whom God removed to a special office and bestowed 

1 In the Aramaic original the verb which appeared in the Old Testa- 
ment texts about the removal was obviously used here (Franz Delitzsch 
uses it in his translation into the Hebrew). 

8 One must not see in the statement c a Christological utterance' 
(Dibelius, Gospel Criticism and Christology, 48). It has been rightly com- 
pared with IV Ezra x. i where the spouse, which is Zion, says: 'But 
as my son entered his bridal-chamber, he fell down and was dead. 
Then we overturned the lights'. (For this c Joachim Jeremias, 'Erloeser 
und Erloesung im Spaetjudentum und Urchristentum', Deutsche 
Theologie, E, 1929, in f.). The strange reference of this 'casus' (thus the 
Latin version) to the fall of Jerusalem is obviously secondary. Jesus seems 
to me to make use of a figure previously found in the tradition of the 
removal of the 'servant', against which the Ezra passage represents a 
varying form of the same motif. 


the power for It, the one to a heavenly office as the "Prince 
of the Presence 9 , the angel of the immediate proximity, 
the other to an earthly office as the * Angel of the Covenant', 
the helper in need and herald of the kingship, who had 
just appeared as John the Baptist and had performed his 
office? Or must it happen otherwise? It was written of yet 
another, of the 'servant of JHVH* (Is. liii) that he was 
'taken* and 'cut off from the land of the living*, and then 
'his grave* and curiously enough 'his deaths* (t;. 9) were 
spoken of, but then it was proclaimed that he would pro- 
long his days and the will of God would prosper through 
him, after he 'had interposed for the rebels' and 'poured 
forth his soul unto death'. This too is a removal, a removal 
also to a particular, especially elevated office: he shall 
become a light to the nations (xlii. 6, xlix. 6) and a 'covenant 
for the people*, the embodied covenant of the people united 
from amongst them, and he 'shall restore the earth' (xlix. 8) 
by setting free those held in prison and darkness (xlii. 7, 
IxL 2) and establishing justice upon earth (xlii. 4) ; through 
his mediation the salvation of God shall rule unto die 
borders of the earth (xlix. 6). 

That which has been proclaimed in this way is only to be 
adequately understood as the modification of the image of 
the Messiah. 1 In order to make this quite clear the nameless 
prophet, who, taking up again the concept of 'apprentice* 
introduced by Isaiah (Is. viii. 16, 1. 4), conceived himself as a 

1 The opinion, expressed by Bultmann in his discussion of Otto's 
* Reich Gottes und Menschensohn* (Theologische Rundschau EX, 1937), 28 
that the Messianic interpretation of Is. 53 is only found in Judaism since 
the second Christian century, is answered by the artificial and biased 
character of the interpretation referred to, directed against the meaning 
of the prophecy, which contradicts the familiar hope of the nation. 
This meaning was not officially accepted, but later on, when it threatened 
to become popular, it was opposed by that vulgar-messianic interpre- 


posthumous disciple of Isaiah, renewed the main motifs of 
his Messianic prophecies with an altered meaning, 1 in 
which everything which refers to David is expurged from 
the perso.n of the Messiah; the Messiah now is not a royal 
but a prophetic man, one who no longer needs to raise his 
voice in the streets (xliL 2) and the "sure mercies of David' 
pass over to the community of Israel * gathered' by God's 
compassion to an 'eternal covenant' (Iv. 3 f, liv. 7), which 
community he represents. Added to this however is the 
fact that several lives come into existence from the one 
earthly life of the Isaianic Messiah, that according to the 
Masoretic Text, the authenticity of which need not be 
questioned he must die several 'deaths', that his soul is 
removed in the moment of dying (the spiritualized under- 
standing of the 'being taken' already governs in this case, 
as we know it from the Psalms) and returns, until he is 
raised out of concealment into openness and may complete 
his work of salvation: now for the first time the world of 
men understands what he suffered of old for them, for the 
'many' (Is. liiL n , c lii. 14 f), and what they failed to 
appreciate. In the concealment, when he lay hid like an 
unused arrow in God's quiver (xlix. 2), he did not even 
understand himself in his sufferings and his toil, all this 
seemed to him vain and fruitless, until it was made known 
to him what the office was which God kept for him; but 
even now he does not yet know when, at which stage of his 
way the fulfilment will come. The anonymous prophet, who 
speaks in the first person in his songs of the 'servant' knows 
himself as part of this way, without knowing which part. 
If, as it has been repeatedly supposed, 2 the Messianic 

1 Cf. for this and the subject in general the chapter 'The Mystery' in 
my book The Prophetic Faith. 

2 Cf. especially Schweitzer loc. cit. 89 if. (English edition, The Mystery 
of the Kingdom of God(ig^\ 236 ff.) and Joachim Jerernias, loc. cit., 118. 


mystery of Deutero-Isaiah exercised a far-reaching influence 
upon Jesus, this powerful motif of the removals and of the 
way from the hidden office of suffering to the public office 
of fulfilment belongs essentially to it. We can scarcely sur- 
mise at what hour the germ of this motif came into the 
mind of Jesus it may have been at the time of Peter's con- 
fession, perhaps shortly before it; but it must certainly have 
been a time of very painful fruitfulness, the effect of which 
we can feel in many a genuine saying. It is to be described 
as painful because already in Galilee Jesus had certainly 
learned to suffer through man being as he is, especially if the 
notable report in John's Gospel (vi 66) about the disciples 
who left him may be traced back to a genuine tradition. 
If we view the connexion rightly Jesus understood him- 
self, under the influence of the conception of Deutero- 
Isaiah, to be a bearer of the Messianic hiddenness. From this 
follows straightway the meaning of the 'Messianic secret'. 
The arrow in the quiver is not its own master; the moment 
at which it shall be drawn out is not for it to determine. 
The secret is imposed. It is put by Jesus into the heart of the 
disciples 1 whose confession indeed confirms him in it 

Against the argument, important in itself, which Bultmann (loc. cit., 
27) has advanced, that in none of the words of Jesus is there a certain 
reference to the suffering servant of God, is to be considered the fact that 
Jesus 5 silence about his relation to a tradition which appeared not as 
prophecy but as mystery and spoke its language, is quite understandable. 
To be sure the idea of a suffering Messiah was * strange and alarming* to 
the disciples, as to most of the Jews of that time (this was changed ap- 
parently from the breakdown of the Barcochba rising) ; but this is not to 
say how it appeared to Jesus. The decisive point is thatin the servant of God 
mystery it is not the Messiah who must suffer but his previous stages; 
hence the particular lability which originates from its influence. 

1 This genuine tradition of an objective Messianic secret in Jesus' 
understanding of himself appears to me to have been worked over and 
intensified kter on especially by Mark in his demon-stories. 


like Isaiah once * sealed up' the message of salvation in the 
heart of bis own. Only when in sight of the end does the 
attitude of Jesus appear to change. But the story of his last 
days is so thickly overlaid by dogmatic certainty that one 
cannot venture any attempt at the reconstruction of his 
genuine utterances from this period. Nevertheless one 
single reference seems to be admissible. 

In the account of the trial, 1 which is not to be considered 
as fundamentally historical, a noteworthy saying of Jesus 
is quoted (Mark xiv. 62), which as it stands can no more 
have come from his lips than the question which it answers 
could have come from the high priest, but which may be 
derived from the content of a genuine statement. Neither 
the connexion of the 'I am* with that which follows is to 
be retained, nor that of 'sitting 9 with 'coming', nor the 
'power' which sounds rather like a Gnostic concept; but 
the reference to the 'son of man' or man, who would be 
'seen' coming with the clouds of heaven, given in the 
answer to a question about himself, Jesus, has a peculiarly 
authentic character. 'Who art thou?' he has just been asked 
himself, as he earlier had asked the disciples who he was, 
but he, looking into realms beyond, replies in effect: 'Thou 

1 Cf. especially Lietzmann, Der Prozess Jesu, Sitzungsberichte der 
Preussischen Akadamle der Wissenschaften, Phil-hist. Kksse 1931 (c also 
his discussion with Buechsel ZNW 1931-2); of the earlier works: 
Goguel, /#$ et Romains dans Thistoire de la passion (1910); c also the 
same, A propos du prods de Jesus ZNW XXXI (1932) 294 ff. The histori- 
city of die report has not been proved in my opinion even by the 
thorough essay of K. L. Schmidt, Der Todesprozess des Messias Jesus, 
Judaica I (1945), I ff. (Incidentally Schmidt's remark about Klausner's 
statement that the verdict is 'not consistent with the spirit of the Phari- 
sees': 'Klausner, who as a Jew cannot avoid speaking in a certain sense 
pro domo' is regrettable. When Christian and Jewish scholars cannot 
concede to ane another, even ahout this subject, that throughout they 
speak pro veritate, then we are seriously going back.) 


shalt see the one whom I shall become 9 . He sets him now: 
I am he. He does not say It, but there are those who hear 
him who mean to hear it, because they see Mm, the one 
who sees. That he imagines himself in his own person as 
the one who will be removed and afterwards sent again to 
an office of fulfilment, in die figure of the vision of Daniel, 
is suggested strongly enough. The one who is now removed 
from the state of concealment and thereupon entering not a 
further concealment, but a Messianic revelation, must come 
from above, since now he is equipped with the other realiz- 
ing power "which was not granted him in the former state: 
he who experienced the lack of this power cannot think of it 
any more as confined within earthly conditions. If we may 
presuppose such a change of view, then the biographical 
fact is given, around which after die death of Jesus and the 
visions of the disciples the crystallizing of the mythical 
element lying ready in die hearts of those influenced by 
Hellenism took place, until the new binitarian God-image 
was present. Not merely new symbols but actually new 
images of God grow up from human biography, and pre- 
cisely from its most unpremeditated moments. 

The figure of the Messiah of Israel had changed twice in 
the pre-Christian period both times in connexion with 
great national wars and periods of suffering without how- 
ever the new configuration supplanting the old; rather they 
continue to exist side by side, the old, pre-exilic remaining 
dominant, widi characteristics from die others being taken 
into it. This first form may be called that of the king who 
fulfils. 1 It has its origin not in mythical imagination but in 
the view of historical reality in the prophetic perspective. 
Messiah, Christ, JHVH's Anointed, means in Israel the 
king as the receiver of sacramental anointing with oil in the 

1 C the chapters 'The rule of God and the rule of Man' and 'The 
TheopoKtical Hour* in my book The Prophetic Faith. 


house of God. He was placed according to Its intention, as 
understood by the prophets, tinder a special command 
from heaven, under a commission which allowed the pro- 
phets to set him time and again before the actual will of 
God; they confront him with the specific demand, which 
has been issued and is being issued to him, the demand to 
realize justice in Israel. As the kings fail to fulfil their task, 
the prophets reply with the prediction about the coming 
one who will fulfil the anointing. With the break-up of 
the Judaean Kingdom the old Messianic hope becomes 
problematic. It is not destroyed by it, indeed it springs up 
afresh with the first movement for return, but in the mean- 
time a new, quite unheard-of form has appeared on the 
scene, the proclaimer of which treated the former as histori- 
cally settled. The Messianic commission in its actual form 
was divided by him into two during the period of suffering 
in the Exile: the task of beginning, the leading back of 
Israel to its land is now transferred to a foreign prince, 
Cyrus, as JHVH's anointed (Is. xlv. i), but the actual 
commission and with it the fulfilment of the 'new* 
prophecy against the * first' one the establishment of the 
righteous community of Israel as the centre of the freed 
nations of the world devolves upon the new man from 
Israel, upon the 'servant ofJHVH'. The commission to him 
embraces two functions, two phases, which are divided 
among different persons, who however represent only two 
manifestations of the same figure; this becomes ever more 
clear to us as we proceed from one to the other of the four 
songs (xlii. 1-9, xlix. i-pa, 1. 4-9, Hi. I3~liii, 12), and so 
apparently the prophet himself gained increasing clarity 
through his experiences and disappointments. The first 
function, which is preparatory, is a suffering: the 'servant' 
of the period of suffering takes upon himself in his own 
present condition of prophetic concealment the burden of 


the sins of the 'many* from the nations of the world, he 
who is guiltless exculpates them and thereby makes possible 
the speedy breaking-through of salvation (if the reading in 
the Masoretic text 'in his deaths' may be accepted, as I 
think, then earlier suffering prophets may be regarded as 
manifestations of the servant). The second function, the 
Messianic fulfilment, is reserved for another, public appear- 
ance of the 'servant' ; then for the first time will the nations 
of the world with Israel recognize how and through whom 
the preparation took pkce. (Essential to the understanding 
is that the one appointed for public recognition remains in 
the 'quiver' until he is drawn out, i.e. this his special Mes- 
sianic vocation can be surmised indeed beforehand, but 
not actually known.) 

Both forms of which we are speaking however the pre- 
exilic form of the king and the exilic form of the prophetic 
'servant* have this in common, that the Messianic man is 
here an ascending and not a descending one. He steps forth 
from the crowd of men and is 'chosen* by God (Deut. 
xvii 15, Is. xlii. i) which of course can mean different 
things: with the king the beginning of a testing, with the 
'servant* the ratification. The commission which he re- 
ceives is conferred upon him on earth, he is not sent down 
from heaven to earth with it. For the prophetic man too it is 
the specific tradition that he comes to know his mission in 
the call, and although he is aware of having been 'known* 
by God before his birth and sanctified by Him (Jer. i. 5) he is 
not affected by any thought of a heavenly pre-existence; and 
Deutero-Isaiah certainly does not think of the final, fulfilling 
appearance of the servant of God as one which has been sent 
down from heaven to earth. This changes with the second 
crisis and period of suffering for the people, the Syrian. 
People tend then not merely to despair of the saving 
achievement of the king, but of that of earthly man in 


general. The world can no longer be redeemed by the 
world. As the first change had been expressed in the book 
of the anonymous prophet, which originated from pam- 
phlets amongst the exiles, so the second change was in the 
Book of Daniel. The 'one like to a man', the eschatological 
representative of Israel, is conveyed 'with the clouds of 
heaven' before the throne of God. This still indefinite 
image is developed in the Book of Enoch to a heavenly 
pre-existence of the Messianic man, although at first only 
in outline: his election had taken place before the creation 
of the world (xlviii. 6) and his dwelling is for ever 'under 
the wings of the Lord of the spirits' (xxxix. 7). But now the 
'servant' of Deutero-Isaiah in his form as the one who fulfils 
is also incorporated into him: the 'from the outset hidden' 
(bdi. 7) heavenly 'Son of Man' is he who, having come 
down, will be 'the light of the nations' (xlviii. 4.). 1 Accord- 
ingly the one who had been seen by the anonymous prophet 
as his own future, the one who is removed and who returns, 
proceeds from an earthly to a heavenly nature: nevertheless 
he remains in essence the one removed from earthly life, 
for instance that of Enoch, into the heavenly : the pre-existent 
one appears, as it were, like a vessel, which contains the 
man. Not the person, but the form is pre-existent. 2 Here, 
in a continuation of Deutero-Isaiah's conception, the 
ascending man is interwoven with the descending into an 
earthly-heavenly dual life. Jesus finds this in the popular 

1 The separation made again recently by Sjoeberg, Der Menschensohn 
im aethiopischen Henochbuch (1946) between the songs of the servant is 
unfounded, as I have shown in the chapter 'The Mystery' of my book 
The Prophetic Faith. 

2 1 do not refer to chapters 70 and 71 of the Ethiopian Book of Enoch in 
which Enoch himself becomes the *Son of Man', because I must associ- 
ate myself with the doubt as to their authenticity. Otto's view, loc. cit., 
164 ff., which is constructed from them, seems to me, as to Bultmann, 


conception; 1 and so he appears to conceive Ms own present 
and future in a personal crisis, the office of suffering for the 
preparation and that of glory for the fulfilment. 

If this is so then the idea of the * servant' 2 , modified by 
the Apocalypses, has stepped once again into the actual 
life-story of a man and in virtue of the biographical charac- 
ter so obtained has operated from this point as it has oper- 
ated. It seems to me that here, especially through Paul, and 
later especially through John, the process of deification 
began, which it is true either dropped the name 'Son of 
Man*, as Paul did, or retained it, as John, following the 
Synoptics, did, only on the lips of Jesus himself. The first 
presupposition of this work or process was that the removal, 
as associated with a purely human life (without pre-exist- 
ence), was completely replaced by the resurrection, for 
which there was no analogy; its only trace remains in the 
ascension of the risen-one. As the second presupposition 
there was joined to it pre-existence, and differently from 
Jewish Apocalypses as a distinct essence and person, so that 
the fundamental and persistent character of the Messiah, as of 
one rising from humanity and clothed with power, was 
displaced by one substantially different: a heavenly being, 
who came down to the world, sojourned in it, left it, 
ascended to heaven and now enters upon the dominion of 
the world which originally belonged to him. Now it is 
declared (John iii. 13): *No man ascended to heaven except 
him who came down from heaven, the Son of Man*. Only 
one step had to be taken from this to deification. 

1 1 mean precisely this and not that Jesus 'tad lived among the ideas 
of the Enoch, tradition* (Otto, loc. cit., 176). 

2 So is the figure called in the Ezra Apocalypse xiii. 32, 37, 52 and in 
the Baruch Apocalypse Ixx, 9 ('of my servant, the Messiah'). 


HE colloquy with the rich man, whom Jesus advises to 
give up everything and to follow him, is opened by 
the question (Mark x. 17 par.): 'Good Master, what 
shall I do that I might inherit eternal life?' and the 
reply begins with the words: 'Why callest thou me good? 
There is none good but God alone'. Then follows: 'Thou 
knowest the commandments * ., . * If one wants to preserve the 
continuity, 'good' must not be understood either by moral 
perfection or goodness; had that been the case Jesus would 
have uttered before the reply a reproof which was quite 
unconnected with it It is different if the speaker uses* good' 
in the sense of 'excellent*, that is, intends to say that by his 
big question he is referring to one who, by the eminence 
of his mastership, is qualified to answer it adequately. 
Precisely this Jesus rejects. As in all things, so also in this, 
God alone is 'good', He alone is the good Master, He alone 
gives the true answer to the question about eternal life. 
And He has given it, in the commandments of His 'teach- 
ing', the Torah, from which Jesus now quotes several. 
Only when the questioner asserts that he has kept them all 


from liis youth upwards, Jesus regards him lovingly and 
adds: "Thou lackest one thing*, by which he merely con- 
firms the feeing which led the man there and the implicit 
expression of which inspired love in Jesus. And now he 
adds the entirely personal advice: therefore give up every- 
thing to which thou holdest fast (the 'treasure in heaven' is 
an unaccented parenthesis in the sense of the current 
doctrine of rewards, which Jesus does not wish to question 
but yet which in his view does not say the decisive thing) 
and follow me. 1 This is not intended to complete the divine 
instruction; there is no such thing, man only needs to grasp 
the original intention of the commandments of God, and 
what that means thou wilt come to know sufficiently if 
thou goest with me. God teaches His doctrine for all, but 
He also reveals His way directly to chosen people; he to 
whom it is revealed and who goes in it transfers accordingly 
the doctrine into personal actuality and teaches therefore 
'the way of God* (Mark xii. 14) in the right manner of man. 
So Jesus knows himself to be a qualified means to teach the 
good Master's will, but he himself does not will to be 
called good: there is none good, but God alone. 

No theological interpretation can weaken the directness 
of this statement. Not only does it continue the great line 
of the Old Testament proclamation of the non-humanity 
of God and die non-divinity of man in a special way, which 
is distinguished by the personal starting-point and the point 
of reference: against the tendencies towards deification of 
the post-Augustan ecumeny, its thirst after becoming a god 
and making gods, it also opposes ifce fact of remaining man. 
The historical depth of the moment, in which the word was 
spoken, is to be understood from the point of view of the 

1 Matthew obscures the meaning with his 'If thou wouldest be 
perfect', which, transfers the idea of v. 48 to this place, with which it 
does not fit: the man is not concerned with perfection but eternal life. 


deification which, the one who spoke It attained after death. 
It is as if he warded this off: as if, for the sake of the 
faith-immediacy to God in which he stands and to which 
he wants to help man, he warded off this belief in him- 
self. It is truly an instance here of Emtinah. 

What was the way which could lead from this declaration 
of Jesus which was preserved in spite of the Christology 
opposed to it and accordingly the genuineness of which can 
hardly be doubted to his apotheosis? 'Thesonship of God', 
writes Usener in his book Das Weihnachtstest (1888) 
which is still not out of date, 'was given, and faith must 
have been irresistibly driven to develop the idea of divinity'. 
By the 'givenness' of the sonship we are to understand here 
that in the oldest tradition of the baptism of Jesus the 
heavenly voice chose and raised him to be the son of God. 
Recently it has been taken for granted that originally the 
resurrection was regarded as the moment of this appoint- 
ment, and only later on the baptism. 1 If that is so, then the 
report of the baptism, which Mark places at the beginning 
of his account of the Messiah as the * divine birth * 2 of 
Jesus, cannot well go back to any personal communication 
of Jesus about his own experience at the baptism, and there 
is no pathway from his understanding of himself to the 
process of deification. It is a different matter if as appears 
to me correct now as before the baptism tradition is in 
essence genuine 3 and a saying of Jesus lies at the basis of this 


1 Cf. die comprehensive account by M. Dibelius in Die Religion in 
Geschichte uni Gegenwart (2nd ecL), L 1559. 

2 Usener, Das Weihnachtsfest (2nd ed., 1911), 49. 

s Cf. Windisch, *Jesus und der Geist nach synoptischer Uberlieferung* 
(in Studies in Early Christianity, 1928), 223 : 'The style of the narrative is 
mythical and the interpretation is determined by the Old Testament 
figure of the Spirit-anointed servant of God. But an historical kernel is 
very probable'. 


essential part. 1 In the Synoptic Gospels such a saying has 
not been preserved, perhaps because of the disparity between 
it and the accepted report. But it seems to me that a trace 
of such a declaration is preserved in one place in which 
one hardly looks for it. It is also of importance for our 

The beginning of the Nicodemus-pericope (John iii. 1-8) 
seems to me to belong, in a shorter setting which is to be 
inferred approximately from the one given us, to the en- 
claves of genuine tradition in St. John's Gospel, which have 
not yet been adequately investigated, and which only yield 
their character when translated back into Aramaic or 

A Pharisee town-councillor, Nicodemus, whom some 
exegetes 2 want to identify with the rich man who seeks the 
way to eternal life, comes by night to Jesus probably not 
secretly, but in the atmosphere of secrecy. He addresses 
him *from the sure basis of the scribes fwe know*, v. 2) 
and recognizes him as having an equal right (he calls Mm 
'Rabbi'), as authorized by God to be a teacher'. 8 The 
signs, he says, which Jesus does prove that he has *come 
from God' and that 'God is with him*. These words are 
'as to the form a simple address, as to the matter a question*, 4 
to which Jesus indeed 'replies* (v. 3). What is Nicodemus 
asking about? Bultmann means that the question ought not 
to be 'particularized* ; it seems to me that one is driven by 
the text to do this, but one must guard against reading 

1 C, amongst others, Burkitt, "Hie Baptism of Jesus*, Expository 
Times, 38 (1926), 201. 

2 Bacon, The Fourth Gospel in Research and Delate (1910), 382; c The 
Gospel of the Hellenists (1933), 413. 

8 Bultmann in a correspondence "with me (long before the publica- 
tion of his commentary on John). 

4 Bultmann, Das Johannesevangeliutn, 94. 


anything into It. The speaker asserts Jesus 3 empowerment 
from above in Ms word (v. 22) and his work (v. 2b) and is 
then silent. His silence expresses Ms question: he does not 
understand this empowerment. Silently he asks: how does 
this come about in your case? whence have you this? with 
what have you acquired it 2 Jesus, questioned about himself, 
gives information about himself, but in such a way that 
precisely by it the questioner learns that no information 
can be given about such a question concerning the nature of 
its subject. Yet at the same time the questioner has acquired 
information concerning something about which he had not 
intended to ask or at any rate not then, and something he 
needed to know. 

How does it come about that one, as Nicodemus expresses 
it, 'comes from God J , without having been at pains about 
it? Jesus answers (v. 3) : the particular thing about which 
you ask, the teaching and acting empowered by God, is 
derived from the fact that a man sees the kingship of God 
which has drawn near ; but he can only see it if first here the 
text becomes ambiguous 1 he has been * begotten from 
above 5 or 'born anew'. 

'The kingship of God*, for the Synoptics the beginning 
of the preaching of Jesus, appears in John only in this 
section, which was received by him. Whoever, says Jesus, 
sees and proclaims the kingship of God now, at the time of 
its greatest proximity to the world and to announce it is 
my teaching, of which you speak he it is who comes from 
God. For this however he must first be 'begotten from 

1 Cf. Goguel, Trots ttudes, 105; Cullmann, Der johanneische Gebrauch 
dopfeldeutiger Ausdruecke, Theologische Zeitschrift IV (1948), 3$5 The 
ambiguity of avwOev in my opinion originated in this case in the 
translation and henceforth, has been utilized for the addition of v . 4b 
(I consider 4a is original). In the original it ran 'from above'. 


Jesus now gives to an incidental question^ which 

more dialectic than naive (originally only v. 42), an answer 
that leads more deeply and precisely into Ms : only 

the man who has been begotten by water and spirit can see 
God's rule and enter into it two phases of the same event. 
'Water and spirit' refer ip. the Jewish circle of ideas (as 
already Clement of Alexandria perceived) to the creation 
of the world: the breath of power from above, which blows 
down on the awakened potentiality of all living creatures 
and which brings them to life. 1 But in the language of 
Hellenistic Judaism as we know from several character- 
istic references in Philo the creating of God was called a 
procreation, apparently in connexion with early Israelitish 
use of words, related to North-Syrian; 2 Adam too was 
considered to have been 4 begotten' by God, as in addition 
to Philo the conclusion of the Lukan Joseph-genealogy 
(Luke iii. 38} shows. So it may be assumed that in the earliest 
tradition of the colloquy 3 Jesus spoke of people being created 

1 The attempt of Odeberg, The Fourth Gaspel I (1929 C), 51 ff., to use 
for the explanation of the reference the idea, steady known from the 
Book of Enoch, of a coupling of the waters above with those below, 
leaves unnoticed the fact that the Spirit at the "beginning of the creation- 
story broods over the waters above (which are still undivided from, those 
below). The Haggadic conception of the Spirit as hovering between 
the waters above and those below cannot be justified by the Scripture- 
text; moreover it belongs to another group of ideas to that of the 
coupling of the waters. 

2 The verb qtmak, which in Hebrew appears to have originally meant 
parental procreation, is used in the Ras Shamra texts for the mother of 
the gods as 'procreatoress*. 

3 Justin's logion, ApoL I, 61. 4: *If thou are not born again, thou wilt 
not enter into the kingdom of God', which seems to me to be derived 
from the earlier version of the Nicodemus conversation (c Merx, Die 
vier kanonischen Evangelien ft, 2, 1911, 54), does not contradict this. 
References like I John iii. 9 ; i Peter i. 23 belong to a later development, 
which sensualizes more strongly the 'begetting*. 


anew by water and spirit (the Idea of water, which dis- 
appears in the sequel, is taken from the remembered ex- 
perience, but does not adhere to it, but refers to the creation 
exposed to the operation of the creating spirit) and in the 
translation the begetting-anew took its place; this was ex- 
plained as being bom anew it se^ms, only as the second half 
of the intervening question and verse f which destroys the 
connexion and alters the meaning were added. It is to be 
borne in mind that on the one hand neither the Synoptics 
nor Paid knew of a second birth, and on the other that Paul 
knows of a creating-again, 1 which he expresses (2 Cor. 
v. 17, Gal. vi. 15), speaking it is true only of Christians and 
not of Christ, by the word *new creation', which was 
already current in early Rabbinic thought for the activity 
of God which regenerated a person in the midst of life; so, 
for example, Abraham (Midrash Tanchuma on the refer- 
ence) at the time of his being brought forth from his native 
country (according to another conception (Midrash Genesis 
rabba xxxix, 11), at the time of the promise of his "seed 5 , as 
the endowment with new power of procreation), is 'made' 
into a 'new creature 5 . The first stimulus towards this idea 
may originate in the narrative of the first king to be an- 
ointed, who, after the anointing, as the Spirit of JHVH 
falls upon him, 'is turned into another man', because God 
'turned into him another heart' (i Sam. x. 6, 9). The servant 
of God in Deutero-Isaiah 2 (Is. Ixi i) also traces back to an 
anointing the presence of God's Spirit 'with him', which 
portion Jesus in Luke (iv. 18) reads in the synagogue as ful- 
filled in him by the experience of baptism. The fact that in 
the translation of the Nicodemus colloquy into Greek 

1 Cf. Loisy, Le quatrieme frangile, 2nd, ed. (1921), 160. 

s I ascribe Is. Ixi, I to Deutero-Isaiah himself; that which follows 
is a later elaboration which reduces the universalist conception (c xlii 
6 and xlix. 6) into a particularist one. 


begetting-again enters in the place of the new creation Is ex- 
plained also by the powerful influence which the divine saying 
at the baptism in the original Lukan setting, which addresses 
the son with the adoption-formula from Psalm ii 7, * To-day 
have I begotten thee*, exercised upon early Christian thought. 1 
According to that late Messianic doctrine the Messianic man, 
raised in the course of life by God to be His son, ascends 
from humanity to a heavenly existence and mission. 

That Jesus now says, in correspondence with the pre- 
ceding sentence, that what issues from flesh is flesh but 
that which issues from spirit is spirit, has originally a mean- 
ing quite different from instructing an inquisitive questioner 
that one cannot understand spiritual birth from the idea of 
physical birth. Immediately before it had been stated that 
on him who has personally entered into the renewal there 
takes pkce anew the never-ending event of creation, again 
the spirit of God hovers above the waters of becoming, but 
in a new, as it were, spiritual work: the human nature in 
which the formative breath from above and the chaotic 
flood from below meet one another is remodelled by the 
working of the spirit. But it is now said of this person that 
he, this 'other man', as originated from the spirit, is spirit; 
obviously it does not mean that henceforth he is 'only' 
spirit and not flesh, but that the spirit has blown down into 
him in such a manner that a kind of being which belongs 
to the spirit has become his own. Once again this requires 
elucidation, which must follow. 

What follows is that Spirit-Wind simile, over which 
the Western translators have so laboured until in the esnd the 
same word pneuma in the same sentence is rendered once 
by wind and once by spirit 2 ; from the point of view of 

1 C Usener, Das Weihnachtefest, 40 ff. 

2 Cf. Buber and Rosenzweig, Die Sckrift und ihre Verdeutschung, 160 C, 


readers of the Greek text this Is an absurdity. * Simile, ' 1 said, 
but actually it is no simile. 1 It is not about two things, in 
which, one was compared with the other, but only about 
one thing, the modi, the pneuma, the spiritus, the divine 
breath, which, experienced from the beginning in religious 
sensuality, blows towards the cosmos the stirring and 
enlivening * wind' and inspires the mind of man with the 
stirring and enlivening 'Spirit'. 2 This One-from-above, 
which must not be misunderstood as two, appears at the 
beginning of the story of creation above the upper waters 
and now, in the new creation of the man who is called, 
above the baptismal water of Jordan. 3 This, the mach of 
God, sent down by Him, is that which ever again creates 
men and renews the face of the earth (Ps. civ. 30). In Luther's 
translation it is said of it: the wind blows (earlier he wrote 
as Meister Eckhart did: der Geist geistet), but in the Greek 
text: to pneuma . . . pnei, in which the oneness of the root of 
the noun and verb is obviously not fortuitous. But is this 
common root original? The intention is to point at the 
situation of the creation; but in the story of the creation it is 
not said of the ruach of God that it blows but that it hovers ; 
the symbol is (c Deut. xxxii. n) that of a bird which, with 
outspread wings, hovers above its nestlings, the tips of its 
wings vibrating powerfully, rather than that accepted by 
some old versions and commentaries of the brooding hen- 
bird. Here too the translation or adaptation upset the 
meaning. If it may be assumed (as I consider likely) that 
Jesus conducted the conversation with scribes in Hebrew, 
then the Greek translator has exceeded like the majority of 

1 In contradistinction to Eccles. ad. 5, as the remodelling of which the 
statement may be seen. 

2 Cf. loc. cit, 33 f, 60 fE; K. L. Schmidt, Das Pneuma Hagion, Eranos 
Jahrhich t 1945, 194 , and Kerenyi, Die Geburf der Helena (1945), 32 ff. 

8 Cf. Loisy, Etudes evange'Uques (1902), 199 ff. 


alliterations and assonances in the Old Testament the 
intentional sound-pattern ruach-nierachefet, which he could 
not reproduce. The pneuma, according to the account of 
the baptism, flew down 'like a dove* (Mark i 10 par.), as 
the Babylonian Talmud (Chagiga ija) made it hover at the 
beginning of the creation of the world 'like a dove' above 
the waters; one hears the rustle of its wings, 1 but does not 
know whence it has come or whither it will go. So, we may 
understand, it happened to Jesus himseE But we know too 
akeady from the story of EHah (i Kings xviiL 12) the motif, 
that the ruach carries the prophet '1 know not whither ', and 
he cannot be found; which again is to be taken along with 
the fact that Jesus after the baptism is driven into the wilder- 
ness by the spirit. The sentence *You know not . . .* pro- 
vides the connecting link with the direct answer which 
follows to Nicodemus* silent question: *Even so is everyone 
who is begotten by the spirit*. What applies to the spirit 
applies also to the one renewed by it: one cannot know 
whence he comes and whither he goes. 2 Nicodemus had 
asked, how is it that you come from God without having 
gone our way? Concerning the way of one re-created by 
the ruach, replies Jesus, you cannot know the nature of it; 
for it is the way of the ruach itself. 

In this way the writer of St. John's Gospel understood 
the statements as an expression by Jesus of his pneumatical 

1 Cf. Ezek. i. 24a LXX; Rev. be. pa: <j>wvri is not used in Biblical 
Greek for the rushing of the wind (Ps. xxix. 5 LXX is no evidence 
against this: this is about JHVH's voice, which manifests itself in the 
storm). The Vulgate understands voice (et vocem ejus audis), and this 
appears to refer to what Jesus heard at the baptism; but unlike 
the apocryphal Nazarean Gospel in the Synoptic Gospels the voice 
of God and not that of the Spirit is heard in the account of the 
baptism. ^ 

2 Cf. Overbeck, Dos Jotiannesevangelium (1911) 397. 


inscrutability, when the Nicodemus colloquy had not yet 
undergone its final revision. In his account of the Feast of 
Tabernacles pilgrimage (viii. 14) he makes clear reference to 
it and in the same language, directly after (vii. 50 f.) Nico- 
demus *who came to him before* has spoken on his behalf, 
and he makes Jesus say to the Pharisees: *I know whence I 
am come and whither I go: but you do not know whence 
I am come or whither I go 9 . Nicodemus had said: *We 
know . . / Jesus replies in this instance: 'You know not'. 
It is implied: you cannot know. 1 

Schlatter rightly understands the saying about flesh and 
spirit when he says: 2 'What is begotten has what he who 
begets is. He transfers his nature to that which is made by 
him*. But it is incorrect when from the fact that there are 
two factors which beget, flesh and spirit, he infers: 'There 
are therefore two kinds of life, two classes of people*. 
The original statement does not lead to Paul's doctrine 
(i Cor. ii. 14 ) of the two classes of men, the psychic and 
the pneumatic. By what he says Jesus does not intend to 
bar the way to heaven to his nocturnal visitor, but to open 
it. Nicodemus hoped nevertheless, when he asked Jesus 
about his way, that he would so find his own, as in Mark 
x. 17 the question is openly asked: 'Good Master, what 
shall I do to inherit eternal life?' And in the end Jesus 
answers in this case too: 'Follow me\ 

Here also the great faith is taught by the personal experi- 
ence of great faith: submit to the Spirit of God and you will 
have to give yourself up to it. So Jesus speaks in this instance 
also only as a man of faith and not as a possible object of 
faith; he declines in both instances, in the former explicitly 
and here implicitly, to be made the object of faith. Here he 

1 C Bernard, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel 
according to St. John (1928), I, 107. * 

2 Der Evangelist Johannes (1930), 89. 


says, from his experience of faith, what it means to become 
a son of God: to be created anew by Him, to be * begotten' 
by Him, as he has experienced it. But this personal experi- 
ence he expresses as one open to men in general: 'Except a 
man . . .* (v. 3) and again 'Except a man . . .* (i/, 5) and lien 
most clearly and forcibly (v. 8) : 'Even so is everyone who is 
begotten by the spirit*. This doctrine, which continues the 
line of the Old Testament doctrine of the divine sonship 
promised to the true sons of Israel (Hos. il i), the writer of 
the prologue, who Qohn i. 13) sets the generation by God 
Himself in the place of the generation by the spirit, has 
transferred into his theological language and world in this 
way (i>. 12): 'But as many as received him to them has he 
given the power to become children of God*. And this 
declaration passes over immediately (v. 14) into the dog- 
matic proclamation of the glory of the incarnate logos 'as 
the only-begotten from the Father'. 

Finally the assertion of being the only-begotten one is 
put also on to the lips of the Synoptic Jesus in that curious 
'ancient interpolation' 1 (Matt. xL 27), standing between 
a prayer and an invitation, which are by all means both of 
his spirit, while it is unconnected with both and foreign to 
both in style and content. In the word 'And no one recog- 
nizes the Father except the Son and he to whom the Son 
may reveal it* the sonship is particularized in the most 
extreme fashion. Once it ran 'Love your enemies so that 
you may become sons of your Father in heaven'. The way 
in was open to all: only love was demanded. Now Jesus is 
made to say: 'I am the door (John x. 9) and 1 am the way' 
(xiv. 6) ; the only door, the only way: 'nobody comes to the 
Father but by me'. 

The sentence 'And nobody knows the Father save the 

1 Wellhausen, Das Evangelium Matthaei 57; c also Arvedson, Das 
Mysterium Christi (1937), nof. 


Son* which, as is well known, is to be found almost word 
for word in the hymn to the Sun of Amenophis IV, has 
been called a * majestic self-testimony*. 1 Certainly it is that. 
But when we hear Jesus himself speaking of the sonship 

something greater than this majesty is present. 

2 Bousset, Kyrios Chnstos, 62. 



MARK'S story of Jesus begins with the account 
of the baptism in the Jordan ; in John it ended 
originally with the account of the over- 
coming of Thomas' doubt in the physical 
reality of the risen-one, as with the 'goal and full-stop*. 1 
If I do not place my finger in the marks of his wounds, he says 
(John xx. 25), *I will not believe'. He wishes also to see the 
marks of the nails, but that may not be sufficient, for one can 
also see ghosts; in order that he may believe that this is Jesus 
himself and not a ghost he must be able actually to touch the 
wounds with his hand: indeed, he must establish with this 
hand the authenticity of the wounds and so of the person. But 
when Jesus appears and calls him to place his fingers in the 
marks of his wounds, sight is enough for Thomas. He invokes 
the risen-one: *My Lord and my God!' In John's time the 
Caesars ordered that they should be called this ; 2 but Thomas 
does not utter his cry- because commanded. Also it is not the 
sight but the speech which forces it fromhim : no ghost speaks 

1 Deissmann, Licht vom Osten, 4tt ed. (1923), 309. c Eng. trans. Light 
from the Ancient East, (1911), p. 366. 

2 Deissmann, loc. cit. 310. 


like this to a man. Now the doubter believes. But he does not 
only believe that Jesus is risen; he believes also that he is 'his 
God*. Did the other apostles also believe that? Till then 
they have not said anything which might be so understood. 
Thomas believes and expresses his faith: Jesus, whom he 
recognizes as risen, is his God. We are not told what caused 
Mm to believe this, and we get no suggestion about it. 
We can only realize anew that the resurrection of an 
individual person does not belong to the realm of ideas of 
the Jewish world. If an individual as individual is risen then 
here is a fact which finds no place in this circle of ideas. 
Thomas does not intend broadening this circle of ideas. 
That he, as we have come to know him in the mood of his 
doubt, has not the power to do this is understandable. 
What he thinks in this moment is apparent: since no man 
can rise as an individual, then this is no man, but a god; 
and since he had been for him the man, his man, now he is 
his God. But with this the Jewish world of belief, which 
knows no god but God, suddenly collapses for the Thomas 
of the narrative. Amongst all the disciples of Jesus he is the 
first Christian in the sense of the Christian dogma. The first 
Christian must have appeared like this to the evangelist, for 
whom everything, his whole heaven-reaching theological 
building, rose up upon the foundation of the * faith' that 
this is and that it is so: a man who avoids for as long as 
possible the belief that there is 'this sort of thing 5 and when 
it is no longer possible, then casts his world from him and 
worships the dead and living one, who has spoken to him. 
Therewith the presence of the One Who cannot be re- 
presented, the paradox of Emunah, is replaced by the bini- 
tarian image of God, one aspect of which, turned towards 
the man, shows him a human face. Thus and not otherwise 
from the starting-point of the Johannine presuppositions 
must the binitarian image of God have been established. 


The objective expression of this faith in an article of faith 
was still required. This arises in the same circle of men 
from which the fourth gospel came, and apparently origin- 
ates from its author. At the aid of the first Epistle of John 
we read of Jesus Christ: 'This is the true God and eternal 
life'. The definite article before *true God* has obviously 
to express the fact that here no new image of God is set up, 
but the old, until now partly hidden one, has been revealed 
in its completeness: until now, that is, eternal life has been 
c with the Father 9 , but now it has 'appeared to us' (i John 
i i), yet not as something added to the true God, but as He 
Himself. It is this which, in other words, the beginning of 
the prologue of the Gospel says, which intends to tell the 
beginning of the creation-story again, as only now revealed 
in its meaning: here it is the logos which was 'with God*, 
already 'at the beginning *, and yet 'the logos was God*. 
The word of creation, which God, revealing Himself in it, 
speaks, is itself He. One might describe this as a compound 
of Jewish and extra-Jewish hypostases-speculation and stand 
by that, if the 'Word', the 'eternal life*, did not show us 
just that human countenance, the face of the risen one, who 
invited Thomas to place his hand in his wounded side. For 
the 'Christian* who exists henceforth, God has this counten- 
ance; apart from this countenance He is, what He was and 
is for the Jew, without a face. There were plenty of anthro- 
pomorphic ideas in the faith of Judaism too, but they were 
an affair of men. Men saw appearances of God and depicted 
them, the men were different and the visions were different, 
the men passed away and the visions passed away with 
them, but God remained unseen in all His appearances. 
But now, in Christian existence, that countenance adhered, 
unchangeably, in spite of all the imagination which tried 
its hand at it, to the divine being. The Christian could not 
help seeing it when he turned to God. When he prayed he 

i 129 

for the most part spoke to it, implicitly or explicitly. Al- 
ready Stephen when dying (Acts vii. 59) yields his spirit 
not to God, like Jesus did when dying (Luke xxiii 46, c Ps. 
xxxL 5), but to the * Lord Jesus'. 

The work of deification was a process, a compulsion, not 
arbitrariness. Only in this way indeed do new images of 
God ever originate. But in this case there was something 
which had not been. * Israel*, from the point of view of the 
history of faith, implies in its very heart immediacy to- 
wards the imperceptible Being. God ever gives Himself 
to be seen in the phenomena of nature and history, and 
remains invisible. That He reveals Himself and that He 
* hides Himself* (Is. xlv. 15) belong indivisibly together; 
but for His concealment His revelation would not be real 
and temporal. Therefore He is imageless; an image means 
fixing to one manifestation, its aim is to prevent God from 
hiding Himself, He may not be allowed any longer to be 
present as the One Who is there as He is there (Exod. iii. 14), 
no longer appear as He will; because an image is this 
and intends this, 'thou shalt not make to thyself any 
image'. And to Him, the ever only personally Present One, 
the One Who never becomes a figure, even to Him the 
man in Israel has an exclusively immediate relationship. 
He *sets Him ever before him' (Ps. xvi 8), he is 'always 
with Him' (Ixxiii. 23). That is something quite different 
from what man tends to understand by monotheism. This 
usually means a part of a general view of the world, its 
highest part; exclusive immediacy however is not a world- 
view, but the primal reality of a life-relationship. To be sure, 
this man of Israel recognizes his God in all the powers and 
mysteries, but not as an object among objects, but as the 
exclusive Thou of ptayer and devotion. Again when Israel 
confesses (Deut, vt 4) that JHVH is its Lord, JHVH the 
One, it does not mean that there is not more than one God 


this does not need to be confessed at aE but "Its* God 
Is the One to Whom It Is related by such an exclusive Im- 
mediate Emtuaah, by such love of the whole heart* the whole 
soul and the whole might of the being (v. 5), as one can only 
be related to One who cannot be represented, which means 
One who cannot be confined to any outward form. In 
scripture this Is called *to be wholly with God*. This reality 
of faith and life is that which the Christian not professedly 
but actually opposes, when In the reality of his own faith 
and life he assigns to God a definite human countenance, 
the countenance of the * great God-Saviour* (Titus II. 13), 
of the 'other God* Qustin), of the 'suffering God' (Tatian), 
of the God who has acquired His Community with His own 
blood* (Acts xx. 28). The God of the Christian is both 
imageless and imaged, but imageless rather in the religious 
Idea and imaged rather in actual experience. The Image 
conceals the imageless One. 

A new and different kind of immediacy Is to be sure ob- 
tained by this. It is that which can be compared with the 
immediacy to a beloved person, who has just this and no 
other form and whom one has chosen precisely as this form. 
It is a Thou, which, determined as it is, as It were appertains 
to one. From this a concreteness of relationship arises, which 
craves sacramental incorporation of the Thou, but personally 
can go further, to the merging of self, to the 'self-bearing of 
this suffering, to the self-receiving of these wounds and 
wound-marks and to a love for man which 'proceeds 
from Him'. Thomas the doubter, who renounces touching, 
the last figure in the story of Jesus, stands at the entrance 
to the way of Christ, in the later stages of which we find 
persons like Francis of Assisi What a great living paradox 
this altogether is! Indeed that first paradox, immediacy 
to the Imageless One, the One Who hides Himself and 
appears again, Who bestows that which is revealed and 

withholds that which is concealed (Deut. xxix. 29), is given 

Nathan Soederblom quotes at one point 1 the statement 
made in conversation by a French admiral: 'There have been 
times in my life when I was an atheist. But I would have 
caEed myself a Christian had I dared'. c ln our time 3 , 
Soederblom continues, 'the same thing has certainly hap- 
pened to more than one. Christ is to them the rock of their 
religion and of their heart. No other name is given to them. 
He is the sun of the world of the soul, Leader, Saviour, 
Lord God in the same measure as that is God, upon which 
the heart entirely relies . . . One may at times feel a doubt 
about the Godhead of God, but not about the Godhead of 
Christ'. One of my late Christian friends, Christian Rang, 
who had prefixed die name Florens before his own in order 
to hint at Angelus Silesius' 'frozen Christ' who had come 
into bloom, once said to me about the most difficult time 
in his life: *I should not have survived if I had not had 
Christ'. Christ, not God ! I have since often mentioned this 
testimony to genuine Christians of my acquaintance from 
whom I knew that I should hear the candid truth of their 
soul. Several of them have confirmed it as the expression 
of their own experience. We find its great literary expres- 
sion in some works of Dostoevski: a clinging to the Son 
when turning aside from the Father is the main attitude of 
Ivan Karamazov, and in the novel about the possessed, the 
Christian, when forced to the wall, falteringly has to confess 
that he indeed believes in Christ, but in God he will 
believe. I see in all this an important testimony to the 
salvation which has come to the Gentiles through faith in 
Christ: they have found a God Who did not fail in times 
when their world collapsed, and further, One Who in 
times when they found themselves sunk under guilt granted 
1 Voter, Sohn und Geist (1909), 60. 

atonement. This is something much, greater than what an 
ancestral god or son of die gods would have been able to do 
for this late age. And something akin to that testimony 
resounds to us from the cries and groans of earlier gener- 
ations to Christ. Only one must not miss hearing the other 
thing when listening to their fervour and piety. 

At the close of the first Epistle of John there follows on 
the confession that this Jesus Christ is the true God and 
eternal life the somewhat abrupt admonition: 'Children, 
guard yourselves from idols! 5 One commentator 1 sees in 
this a proof *that this confession has nothing to do with a 
weakening of monotheism*. That to be sure agrees per- 
fectly with the aim of the confession, but not in the same 
measure with its effect. I presume of course that by * mono- 
theism* in this case something different has been understood 
from the world-view so widely current in the ecumeny 
which was satisfied to replace the concrete claims of the 
Pantheons by a claim which was general and free from all 
reality, and in which there was nothing to be weakened. 

I may give expression here to a personal impression which 
always returns whenever I think of three Pauline passages 
taken together, and of which I can only think of as taken 
together. Paul, who in his genuine letters apparently never 2 
claims for the pre-existent Christ the character of God, 
nevertheless speaks of him as made in the form of God 
(Phil. ii. 6) and directly assigned a share in the work of God 
(i Cor. viii. 6) and this, in spite of its partly formulatory 
character, in a confession of elemental intensity: the world 
knows many gods and many lords, *but for us there is one 
God, the Father, of Whom are all things and we to Him, 

1 Buechsel, Die Johannesbrtefe (1933), 90. 

2 If one detaches in Rom. ix. 5, the benediction of the *God over all' 
from that which precedes it and refers it to the Father, which corres- 
ponds to the same use of words i, 25 and 2 Cor. xi. 31. 


and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things 
and we through him'. In the Father is the origin and end of 
all being, in the Son its permanence and salvation. But in the 
Episde to the Romans (xi 36) we find a changed confession. 
There it is said of God: 'For of Him and through Him and 
unto Him are all things'. The difference leads me to assume 
that in the meantime Paul had noticed that the danger of a 
ditheism threatened and that he wished to obviate this. 
But now it still seems to work in the mind of this man who 
strove for the truth of his vision: 1 in the confession of unity 
he had not let Christ have his right, and so he must do it 
now. So originates the most mature expression of his in- 
tention (CoLL 15 ), in which he seeks to preserve the unity 
and at tie same time to extol the heavenly Christ: *he is 
the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation, 
for in him all things have been created*, 'all things were 
made through him and unto him*. Here the Christ is in- 
cluded both in the creation and in the creating of God, and 
in him the revelation centres, for he is the true image, in 
which He Who remains invisible becomes visible. So Paul 
contended for both things at once, for loyalty to the highest 
possible conception of his Master and for the 'unweakened* 
maintenance of monotheism. 

1 With regard to the chronology of the Pauline writings I follow 
the view of Dodd, 'The Mind of Paul: Change and Development/ 
Bulletin of the John RylanJs Library 18 (1934), 3 ff- 



/ % UGUSTINE, was, I think, the first to refer to die fact 
/Jk that Paul, who says such great things about the 
/ . % love of men between themselves that is to say 
.JL JL as members of the Church of Christ says very 
litde about the love of men to God. This is all the more 
strange, since from childhood he had heard everyday in the 
summons 'Hear, O Israel* the commandment to love God 
with his whole soul, and indeed he knew also the saying of 
Jesus in which this was called the first commandment of all. 
The rare use which Paul makes of the word agape, love in 
the religious and ethical sense, in the sphere of the relation 
of men to God, has been explained 1 by the fact that for him 
*love' is characterized as 'made known through the cross 
of Christ*, and that accordingly human devotedness to God, 
unspontaneous and uncreative as it is, at best has to be 
accounted as the reflexion of it. 

In point of fact there is scarcely one sentence in Paul which 
speaks of a human love to God which is to be understood as 
1 Nygren, Agape and Eros I (193 2) , 92. 


spontaneous; when for Mm man loves God we can be 
quite sure that God Himself In that case works in man, and 
we are tempted to think of Spinoza, for whom the love of 
man for God is in truth nothing but God's love for Himself. 
The depreciation of man is foreign to genuine Judaism. 
That man exists at all is for it the original mystery of the 
act of creation which is expressed in the twofold simile, 
incorporation of the divine 'form' and inbreathing of the 
divine 'spirit'; only in the spontaneity of man does it be- 
come evident what an unfathomable mystery the fact of 
creation implies. The Old Testament command to love, in 
its threefold repetition of the claim on the whole man, 
appeals to his unbroken spontaneity: thou shalt, thou canst 
love God with all thine heart; and it is given to us to feel 
that the heart will not become whole except by such a love 
for Him. Pharisaic Judaism went a step further in that it 
wished to symbolize this task imposed upon man also in the 
dimension of time. *Love Him', it is said (Sifire on Deut. 
vi 5) *unto the squeezing~out of the soul'. One must under- 
stand this by realizing the last moment of the agony, even 
the agony of the martyr, and in this way it was testified to 
by action. God does not attest Himself, but He desires to 
have man whom He has endowed with spontaneity for His 
* witness* (Is. xliii. 10, xliv. 8), and the 'servant* Israel, 
whom He chose for suffering, belongs to such (xliii. 9) when 
he bears his suffering by his own will as one who loves. 
The suffering which was understood as springing from the 
love of God and borne in the innermost spontaneity of love 
to Him was called by Pharisaic Judaism 'suffering of love'. 
When this Judaism wishes to point to the mystery of the 
creation of man in the form of a theologoumenon of human 
existence, it says indeed (Bab. Berachot 3sb): 'Everything 
is in the hands of Heaven except the fear of Heaven', but it 
straightway prevents this from being misunderstood by 


illustrating the sentence by a verse from Scripture which 
explains tie command to love (Dent. x. 12) : God demands 
from Israel that it should fear Him and love Him 1 fear 
belongs to love as the door belongs to the house like fear 
that does not flow into love, so love that does not compre- 
hend fear is only one of the ways of serving God as an idol. 
We see that the God Who speak here speaks of a partner, 
in whom He Himself does not arouse or effect, by the power 
of His own love, this love towards Himself, but rather even 
if He dreadfully hides himself and His love from him desires 
to be loved as He is feared. 'Even if He takes thy soul from 
thee* : so Pharisaic Judaism (Bab. Berachot 6ib) interprets 
the command to love. It is none other than God who 
* squeezes out* the soul, but it is not He, precisely 
not He, but the soul itself, in the original mystery of its 
spontaneity, that loves Him, even then, and shall do it and 
can do it. 2 

It is evident that Jesus, in so far as we are able to unravel 
his historical reality, occupied a positicA within this circle 
of belief. Equally obvious is the fact that Paul had turned 
from it when he devoted himself to the mysterium of Christ 
We cannot but ask how he came to this estrangement. He 
tells us nothing about it. But it seems to me that at one point 
a slight clue is given to us. In Romans v. 8 f he says first: 
'God proves His love towards us in that, while we were 
yet sinners, Christ died for us*, and then: 'If we have been 
reconciled to God as enemies through the death of His 

' 1 In this passage, where the fear of God appears united with the love 
of God, it is at all events to be understood in its concreteness and not 
polished into a synonym of piety. 

8 In view of this reality of faith the opinion recently repeated even 
by Bultmann (Theologie des Neuen Testaments, 23} that in the piety of 
Judaism God is 'removed to far away*, while for Jesus He became again 
a God Who was near at hand, is not to be upheld. 


son , . / Paul Is speaking here not in the first place about 
the atonement for his sins (as in 2 Cor. v. 19), but of the 
reconciliation of the enmity which he, the sinner, had. He, 
who was in enmity against God, is now reconciled to Him, 
since God has now proved His love. In calling himself a 
former enemy of God, Paul does not refer to his previous 
attacking the Community of Christ. He has been 'reconciled* 
not through the appearance of the Exalted One but through 
the death of Jesus, even If it was only when the meaning of 
this death came to him, to wit that God proved His love 
to man in it. When the love of God had not been proved 
to him, he was God's enemy. He was the enemy of a love- 
less God One Who seemed to him loveless. From hence 
I understand his path; its traces show themselves sufficiently 

To Pharisaic Judaism the creation of man and the revela- 
tion are works of the divine love. That man is created in His 
image and all the more that he comes to know this, that 
Israel is chosen for sonship and all the more that this is made 
known to it, proceeds from God's love (Abot IE. 14). But 
Israel alone learns that this love is imperishable. From 
Scripture words like the statement which reaches sinful 
Israel 'from afar' in its wilderness (Jer. xxxi. 2), 'With 
everlasting love have I loved thee' and even more the 
exhortation to Hosea (iii. i), to continue to love the de- 
bauched woman 'like JHVH's love to the children of 
Israel', the living doctrine steadies the existence of the 
people even under the rule of the Romans. Paul tells us 
almost nothing about this primeval, historic and everlasting 
love of God for His creation. The love of God, of which he 
speaks, has scarcely anything other than an eschatological 
meaning, it is with the exception perhaps of an isolated 
mention of Israel beloved for the fathers' sake (Rom. xi. 
28 f), which also however is intended eschatologically 


always connected with Christ as Lord of the Community 
of the final age, rather, it *is* in Christ (viiL 39), it 
and makes its appearance in him alone. *The twofold 
subject experienced as a unity* 1 which we know from an 
early episde (2 Thess. ii 16), 'But He, our Lord Jesus Christ 
and God our Father, Who loved us', most exactly expresses 
Paul's view. Similarly he knows in fact no other grace of 
God than that which has now appeared in Christ; only 
once (in the passage noted above, Rom. xL 29) he speaks of 
Israel's * gifts of grace' that they are *irregrettable', irrevoc- 
able. There are great gifts of grace (ix. 4); but if the 'con- 
clusion of the Covenant' and the * giving of the law* are 
reckoned as such we cannot banish from our memory how 
questionable these blessings appear in the Pauline con- 
ception of history. Not even here, from the abyss of time 
between election and salvation, does any loving counten- 
ance of God look forth. 

This abyss is full of 'wrath'. In the Old Testament God's 
wrath is told, predicted and proclaimed in song, but it is 
always a fatherly anger towards the disobedient child, from 
whom even the wrathful does not want to withdraw his 
love, and the sheer anthropomorphisms serve here as else- 
where to preserve the personal relationship. The wrath of 
Paul's God, Who *to manifest His wrath and to make 
known His power has endured in much long-suffering the 
vessels of wrath destined for destruction' (ix. 22) has nothing 
fatherly about it, neither the primitive wrath of the creator, 
who (v. 21) possesses the potter's power to make vessels 
for degraded use from the neutral mass, nor wrath of re- 
prisal, which smashes them after they have been tolerated 
for long enough. 2 Indeed, this latter is not really God's own 

1 DibeKus cm i Thess. iii. ir. 

8 It is instructive to compare the Pauline text with the parables of the 
potter in the prophets (Is. xxix. 16; Jer. xviii. 3 fE). 


wrath at all. 1 He docs not grow angry, He makes 'the 
wrath', 'almost a form of demonic power', 2 rale in His 
stead* It does not sound un-Pauline when a letter, probably 
not genuine, speaks (i Tim. iil 6) about a 'judgement of 
die devil'. The wrath, which recalls the Old Testament 
"destroyer* (Exod, xii 23), is granted power over mankind, 
like the spirits of the elements, which power lasts until the 
end, for Jesus is called (i Thess. i, 10) 'our deliverer from the 
wrath to come*. In all this there is no longer any place for 
the direct relationship of God to His creation, as was re- 
tained in the Old Testament even in the most extreme 
wrath; God is not wrathful, He gives men into the hand of 
the mighty power of wrath and lets it torment him until 
Christ appears to deliver him. 

At all times in Israel people spoke much about evil 
powers, but not about one which, for longer than the purpose 
of temptation, was allowed to rale in God's stead; never, 
not even in the most deadly act of requital by God, is the 
bond of immediacy broken. Paul, had the theological ques- 
tion been raised in one of his Churches, would certainly 
not have contested the direct participation of God in die 
fate of the human race, but he does not himself acknow- 
ledge it. The divine plan of salvation does not square with 
the fact that all the souls crying in their need to heaven were 
met by a deaf and blind, inevitably functioning fate, in- 
stead of by a God of grace. For Paul's * wrath' is obviously 
of the same nature as that fate called by the Greeks heimar- 
mene, the fate determined by the spirits of the elements or 
stars. Paul does not name the Greek idea. But the apostle 
certainly derived his conception from it already during his 
pre-Christian period, and in this instance the influence on 
him of Hellenistic Judaism of a popular variety, which 

1 Cf. Wetter, Der Vergeltungsgedanke bet Paulus (1912), 
1 Ix>c. cit, 51. 


knew how to combine ingeniously God and fate more or 
less with one another 1 , becomes clearer than at almost any 
other point of his contemplation of existence. It is the move- 
ment of a huge interlocked cog-wheel, which as objective 
* wrath* crushes the individual, until God causes His Son 
to draw forth the elect from the machine. 

As we have said Paid sets no divine compassion in the 
dimension of pre-Christian history over against the demonic 
power of the * wrath', which rages with a kind of full power. 
Apart from the mercy shown to Paul himself and perhaps 
to a Christian community he talks about none other than 
a mercy which is at the end of time or related to the end. This 
mercy is to be sure the goal of the divine world-plan: the 
treatment of the vessels of wrath occurs for the sake of that 
of the vessels of mercy. Indeed, in a passage already men- 
tioned (Rom. xL 32), Paul goes beyond this distinction, 
although again only in an eschatological sense: God has 
shut up c alT in disobedience in order to have mercy upon 
'all'. The 'shutting up' in this case is effected neither by the 
'wrath' nor by other 'powers', but by God Himself. 
He Himself, apparently entirely apart from Christ, makes 
those once chosen by Him unfree in order to be able to set 
them free by Christ, He makes them deserving of wrath 
in order to deliver them from wrath. God alone is to be per- 
ceived in the work of 'shutting up*; in the work of deliver- 
ance He almost disappears behind Christ, who only at the 
end of the ages will hand over the rule to his Father (i Cor. 
xv. 24). The Highest Beings stand out from one another as 
dark omnipotence and shining goodness, not as later with 
Marcion in dogma and creed, but in the actual experience 
of the poor soul of man; the one cast it into bonds and the 
other frees it from them. That Christ is the one who will sit 

1 Josephus assimilates the Pharisees to himself when, he makes them 
ascribe everything to the fate and God. 

on the judgement-throne is as little opposed to this elemental 
sentiment of the man who as a Christian reckons himself 
amongst the saved (i Cor. i. 18, 2 Cor. ii. 15 , iv. 3) as the 
fact that it is God Who, appearing out of His darkness at 
the aid of all things, makes everyone who has worked 
for Christ share in His praise (i Cor. iv. 5). 



HE experience of suffering as innocently borne works 
at times in tie history of faith both as a detractive 
factor and as an element of renewal. One can 
endure pain, but not the God Who sent it: one 
rejects either Him or the image one has made of Him. 
The first case, indeterminate as it is, will not be discussed 
here; in the second the experience can be rectified by a 
greater proximity, ie. a being drawn up, to the divine 
mystery, as the reality of the cloud is rectified by that of 
the lightning. The resulting change in the history of faith 
is then both stirring and constructive for succeeding genera- 
tions if the experience of personal suffering was embedded 
in that of the suffering of a personally united community. 
Such was the situation with the Jewish nation from that 
historic moment in which its naive trust in God was shaken. 
It was the time of Megiddo. At last the king, expected and 
proclaimed by the prophets, he who undertook to fulfil the 
divine commission conferred in the sacrament of anointing, 
sat upon the throne. In the certainty of empowerment 
from above, Josiah marched forth to fight against the 


Pharaoh for the reign of God which was about to begin, 
and was killed. How could this come about? 1 In this way 
the new questioning of the justice of God arises, of the 
meaning of suffering, of the value of human effort on 
behalf of the right way, which surged up in the two centur- 
ies before the catastrophe, then in this itself, and then in the 
miseries of the Babylonian exile. Its effect has been pre- 
served in the outcries of Jeremiah, the dialectical theo- 
logoumena of Ezekiel, the accusing speeches of 'Job\ the 
Psalms of tormented souls and the songs of the suffering 
servant of God. AH these records of a great spiritual process 
point beyond personal suffering to that of Israel. They con- 
cern the monstrous thing which has come to pass between 
God and Israel. So man penetrates step by step into the 
dark which hangs over the meaning of events, until the 
mystery is disclosed in the flash of light : the zaddik, the man 
justified by God, suffers for the sake of God and of His 
work of salvation, and God is with him in his suffering. 
This re-birth of trust in God has already lost its real vitality 
in the second kingdom, which attempted to restore it in 
an as it were institutional way. Centuries afterwards, during 
the period of suffering under the Syrians, the discovery had 
to be made anew. The legends of the readiness for martyrdom 
in the Book of Daniel, those of actual martyrdom in the 
Second Book of the Maccabees, above all the figure of the 
'righteous one' (c Is. liii. n) in the 'Wisdom of Solomon', 
which corresponds to that depicted by Deutero-IsaLah, the 
man who is called a son of God and is condemned to a 
disgraceful death, bear witness to this, of course in a later, 
derivative diction. Under the Hasmoneans the problem of 

1 Cf. Hempel, Die Mehrdeutigkeit der Geschichte als Problem derprophet- 
ischen Theologie (1933), 13 : 'The problem concerning the possible inter- 
pretation of history becomes that of the existence of the Jahveh religion 
in general*. 


suffering again recedes for a time. In the third, the Roman 
distress, it re-appears, but on a characteristically larger 

Three principal types of answer must be distinguished 

The Hellenistic Judaism of common coinage, as we know 
it for instance from the statements of Josephus on his mode 
of thinking, an eclecticism from an attenuated Biblical 
tradition and a not less attenuated Stoic philosophy, is satisfied 
to associate God with a power of fete, which causes the 
suffering of the righteous. Josephus knows nothing more 
about the daring undertaking of Josiah and its result than 
to observe: *Fate, I take for granted, drove him to it'. The 
philosophic Hellenism of Judaism, which strove to take 
seriously the contribution both of Israel and Greece and 
which could not take such an illusionary way, does not 
occupy itself with the problem; Philo does not go beyond 
the conception that God in the creation of the world made 
use of the 'powers' and that these hypostases also henceforth 
occupied a position between Him and men. Apocalyptics, 
which is influenced by Iranian dualism, and yet opposes it, 
approaches the problem differently. In its greatest product, 
the Ezra-Apocalypse, which was written at the time of the 
destruction of Jerusalem, but which was obviously con- 
structed out of older ideas, there speaks the man who 
despairs of history, the son of an 'aged' world, who * tries to 
understand the ways of the Most High*. He is acquainted 
with the doubtfulness of all human righteousness; Israel too 
is sinful and deserving of punishment. But why does God 
not show mercy to His chosen people, why must they 
suffer more than all others, why does He crush them and 
spare those who have trespassed more gravely? The answer 
is eschatological, but when all is said it is no answer, be- 
cause at the End grace passes away and only judgement 

K 145 

remains, at which, nobody can any longer be a substitute 
for another, and 'the many who have come' must go into 
destruction, although God, Who loves His creation, has 
not desired it; from Israel too only a few (amongst them 
'Ezra* himself) are saved. But the answer does not touch 
the fundamental question with which the questioning 
began. The speaker had reproached God (vii. 20 f) with 
not having influenced Israel in the hour of revelation to it, 
so they might receive it truly: "But Thou didst not take 
the evil heart away from them, in order that Thine instruc- 
tion might bring forth fruit in them. ... A lasting sickness 
began: in the heart of the people both the instruction and 
the root of evil. The good disappeared and the evil re- 
mained*. But the foot of evil, common to all men, grew 
out of 'the grain of evil seed' which *at the beginning was 
sown in Adam's heart'. This question or rather complaint 
means that God (in that He did not take away the evil 
heart) preferred the freedom of man to the salvation of 
man, but behind it there stands the thought that He (in that 
He allowed the sowing to take place) put this freedom to 
too difficult a test At this point 'Ezra* unmistakably goes 
beyond *Job\ He too obtains no explanation. But while for 
the latter the sound of the divine Voice, the actual fact of the 
presence and the interest of God gives a most real answer, 
one that is more than words, for the former, in spite of the 
weight and melancholy of the request, everything which 
happens to him from above by way of answer remains 
vain and without comfort. 

It seems to me that Paul before his conversion had got into 
the circle of ideas which found its most mature expression 
in the Ezra-Apocalypse; in the intellectual elaboration of 
what happened to him on the road to Damascus, he ob- 
tained an answer to those questions, which he expressed in 
his epistles, particularly in the Epistle to the Romans, 


probably a decade or a little more 1 before the composition 
of the Ezra-Apocalypse. That the influence of that circle 
of ideas upon him could become so strong and so fruitful 
is to be understood apparently by the way it worked to- 
gether with the extremely personal and violent self-reflec- 
tion of his last pre-Christian period, in a great tumult of 
soul, the memory of which has been preserved and worked 
up in the seventh chapter of the Episde to the Romans 
(vv. 7-25). The view that the T of these texts is a rhetori- 
cally constructed description of 'the situation of the Jew 
under the law* 2 seems to me (from v. 24) to be unaccept- 
able; 3 and. about his present condition as a Christian Paul 
could not speak in this way; yet there is this direct present 
tense ! I can only account for it in that he uses the memory 
of his pre-Damascus personality in its deepest experience 
of itself as a pattern for an inner description of the natural 
man (vv. 7, 8b, pa) and man under the law (vv. 8a, pK 10), 
so that T means at the same time *I Paul' and *I Adam', 
and then *I, a Jew of the law*. 4 The path of the Jewish 

1 This follows whether we accept Eduard Meyer's dating of the 
Epistle to tlie Romans or the argument of Lake (The Beginnings of 
Christianity V, 464 f). I agree with Torrey, The Apocryphal Literature 
(1945), 121, in putting the publication of the chief genuine part of the 
Ezra-Apocalypse at the beginning of the year 69. 

2 Bultrriann, Neueste Paulusforschung (Theolagische Rundschau VI 1935) 


3 This is not an 'emotional judgement* as Kuemmel, Roemer 7 und 
die Bekehrung des Paulus (1929) supposes, but one based on style-critic- 
ism: in a non-poetic text the I of such an exclamation must be under- 
stood precisely as I in the rhetoric of the world's literature, so far as I 
know it, this tone is not to be found. (The texts cited by Kuemmel, loc. 
cit, 128 f, from the Talmud and Alexandrian literature are of quite a 
different kind.) 

4 I cannot so generally admit, as Lietzmann thinks, that Paul had never 
been, even in childhood innocence, 'without the law* {y . 9). It is the 
sacramental expression of a deep reality of life that the Jewish boy only 


person from the natural man, as the Jew is understood to be 
up to the moment of the conscious taking upon himself of 
the *yoke of the rale of God and the yoke of the command- 
ments', to the man of the law is apprehended from the point 
of view of that former self-reflection which is moved into 
the powerfully illuminating light of the present existence 
of the Christian. As it directly comes home to his mind, 
the apostle cries: * Wretched man that I am! Who will set 
me free from the body of this death!' and confesses at once 
from his present condition that he has been freed the I 
which is involved in this 'Thanks be to God', which I can- 
not look upon as rhetorical, entirely proves to me the 
autobiographical background of that which precedes it. 
The most significant thing in the account from our point 
of view is the sentence: 'But I see another law in my mem- 
bers, which strives against the law of my reason, and takes 
me captive', in connexion with which it must be held fast that 
immediately before it Paul is speaking about the law of God, 
to which he, precisely with Ms reason, joyfully consented. 
The kw revealed to man by God and the *law' set in his 
members by God in creation are recognized as opposed to 
one another. Here, unexpressed; but vibrating powerfully 
behind the words, to that question concerning the compati- 
bility of evil in the sense of suffering with God's existence, 
is conjoined that about the compatibility of evil in the moral 
sense with it; it has obviously become the real stimulus to 
Paul's Gnostic view of the world. From this point that con- 
ception of the primitive wrath of God as the 'potter' who 
makes and destroys vessels of wrath becomes clear to us. 
Paul is not content, like the apocalyptic writers, to com- 
plain that God has allowed it to happen, that a grain of evil 

becomes a *son of the commandment* at the age of 13. To be sure he 
lives before this also in the atmosphere of that which is commanded, 
but not yet as one from whom it is as a whole demanded. 


seed was implanted in man, from which guilt and punish- 
ment spring up; he says that God, in creating man, inflicted 
him with a 'flesh*, in which 'nothing good dwells* (v. 18} 
and the consequence of which is that each man does the 
evil which he does not will (v. 19), But also in view of the 
revealed law of God, he, Paul, cannot tolerate Ezra's com- 
plaint that God has not taken away the evil heart from those 
who receive His revelation. For the law, which in itself is 
'holy, just and good*, is, he says, nevertheless so constituted 
that in the unredeemed man, the non-Christian, through the 
commandment not to covet, arouses the desire (y. 7 ), calls 
sin into existence and drives the soul to death (v. 9). Since 
God has given the law precisely for such a purpose (v* 13) it 
could not be His will to remove the evil heart from those 
who received it. The man who has both, flesh and law, the 
still unsaved man in Israel, is 'sold under sin 9 (v. 14). But 
both the creating of the flesh and the giving of the law serve 
God's purpose of saving the world, like the enslavement of 
man under the forces of fate does. Creation and revelation 
have taken place as they are for the sake of salvation; for 
God's way to salvation leads through the 'abounding* 
(v. 20) of human sin and through its propitiation. Paul does 
not pray, as Ezra does again and again, for the mitigation 
of the judgement on humanity; God's sense of justice in- 
exorably demands the appropriate, Le. measureless, punish- 
ment for the 'sin which is sinful beyond measure' (vii. 13). 
Only God Himself can effect the propitiation of an infinite 
guilt, by making His Son, the Christ, take the atoning 
suffering upon himself, so that all who believe on Christ 
are saved through him. In this way Paul laid the foundation 
for the doctrine, which to be sure first arises after him and 
beyond his struggle, the doctrine in which Christ is declared 
a Person of the Godhead: God suffers as the Son in order to 
save the world, which He as the Father created and prepared 


as one which needs salvation. The prophetic Idea of man 
who suffers for God's sake has here given way to that of God 
Who suffers for the sake of man. By this the new image of 
God is erected, destined to give power and consolation to 
Christian people during a thousand years of development 
and a thousand years of their struggles. The problem of the 
meaning of unmerited suffering however is thrown back to 
the position of Job's friends: there is no unmerited suffering; 
the only difference is that now it is taught that every man is 
absolutely guilty and absolutely deserving of suffering, and 
yet everyone can, by accepting the belief in the suffering of 
God, be redeemed through this suffering. 

Over against this sublime religious conception, which in 
the fascination of its content has scarcely an equal, there 
stands in Pharisaic Judaism the plain effort to preserve the 
immediacy of the Israelite relationship to God in a changed 
world. For this it must guard against two ideas which had 
penetrated into Jewish Hellenism the one into its popular 
form, the other into its philosophy as well as into its apoca- 
lyptics: the idea of a fate, which is not identical with the 
rule of God, and that of a mediator, different in nature 
from the occasional intervention of earthly and heavenly 
powers. 1 

In order to erect the first safeguard, every semblance of a 
fate had to be kept away from the idea of Providence. The 
latter means God's presence in and His participation in 
everything that happens, therefore the continuation of the 
creation in every moment. From a transcendent reality of 
this kind, which more exactly expressed is a reality which 
remains transcendent in immanence, nothing can be in- 
ferred, least of all anything apt to limit the self-dependence 

1 Neither the logos of Philo nor the pre-existent heavenly being of 
the Book of Enoch is a mediator in the diristological sense, but each of 
them indicates a tendency towards it. 


of man as a source of events. That is the fundamental 
meaning of the oft-cited sentence of Akibah, (Abot EL 15) 
that everything is foreseen and the licence is given. The 
doctrine which first received this form in the first third of 
the second century is actually much older, indeed early- 
Pharisaic, for it is evident that Josephus misunderstands it 
when he attributes (Ant. XVDQL i) to the Pharisees the 
opinion that all things are determined by fate, but the free- 
dom of impulse is not denied to man, indeed God lets the 
two work together. A * working together* is out of the 
question in this case. On the one hand the thought has gone 
definitely further than in the sentence, that all things are in 
the hands of God except the fear of God: there is nothing 
now which does not stand in the eternal sight of God. On 
the other hand that which has been set free there and which 
possesses the character of a point, of a starting-point, free- 
dom and potentiality to fear God, has become now a freedom 
in all things, an inmost potentiality in all, which is granted 
to man. * Our works are in the choice and power of our souls', 
it says (be 7) in the Psalms of Solomon, the so-called Psalms 
of the Pharisees, a century before Paul. Transcendence and 
actuality do not stand in each other's way, but neither do 
they supplement each other, just as little as God and man 
supplement e^ch other, but the one is wholly the reality of 
God and the other wholly the reality of man. They consti- 
tute jointly the irreducible mystery of the relationship be- 
tween God and man, and we must give credit to the great 
men of faith amongst the Pharisees for having a presenti- 
ment of this in its depth. If however we would understand 
it theologically, i.e. with reference to that side of existence 
which is removed from us, we must speak of a relationship 
in God Himself, that is, as one tends to say, between attri- 
butes of God, but more correctly, between God as One 
Who foresees and God as One Who grants freedom. God 


does not hand over His creation to any Hud of fate, but He 
sets It free and holds it at the same time. 

From this point the way to the other safeguard the 
guarding against the mediatorship is already to be per- 

The problem with which we began, that of the meaning 
of the suffering of the righteous, is now answered by an 
idea which takes up again the great theme of the servant of 
God who suffers 'for the many' and at the same time inter- 
prets the contemporary event which was the most im- 
portant for those who gave the answer, namely, martyrdom. 
Already in the so-called Fourth Book of the Maccabees, 
presumably originating from the same period as the Psalms 
of Solomon, and which expresses Pharisaic piety in a form 
borrowed from late Greek rhetoric, it says (vi. 29, xvii. 22) 
of the martyrs, that the country is purged by their blood 
and their soul is 'taken* as a ransom for the sinful souls of 
the people. This basic view is now transferred to the linger- 
ing illness of great teachers, which atones for their genera- 
tion. Although at times in conjunction with this there are 
aEusions to Messianism, the conception is not essentially 
eschatologicaL But by it reference is already made to the 
non-eschatological relationship, the relationship manifesting 
itself in the course of the human generations, between the 
rigour and the grace of God, between judgement and mercy. 
The difference in Pharisaic Judaism goes beyond that in 
Philo of the creative and the gracious, the royal and the 
law-giving powers of God; it leads to the conception of a 
dramaticism within the Godhead. The two are understood 
as miMot of God, this according to the original meaning of 
the word as His measures or His modes of measuring. 1 
In the Pharisaic view the middot are neither forces nor 
attributes, hut according to the meaning of the word, 
1 So also in Philo, Sacr. xv, 59. 


modes, modes of behaviour, fundamental attitudes, conse- 
quently they are understood as essentially dynamic; but 
the peculiar disposition of the Haggadah towards anthro- 
pomorphic metaphorism, a further development of the Old 
Testament anthropomorphism, results at times in a more 
static imagery. God * proceeds from the middah of judge- 
ment and comes to die middah of mercy' (Jer. Taanit 65), 
consequently from position to position, or (Tanchunia 
Buber HI, ssa) He exchanges die one 'measure* for the 
other. It always remains a movement, a walk, a passage 
from mode to mode. Yet the middot are always united; now 
and then one predominates, but it never works alone, the 
other is never excluded from its operation. The living God 
always embraces the whole polarity of that which happens 
to the world, good and evil. The creation of the world too 
took place not through grace alone, but through its working 
together with rigour; but also no act of chastizing justice is 
accomplished without the participation of mercy. * When 
God created man, He created him by the middah of judge- 
ment and the middah of compassion, and when He expelled 
him, He did so by the middah of judgement and the middah 
of compassion* (Midrash Genesis rabba XXI. 6). The 
*walk* means consequently nothing more than that at one 
time the one, at other times the other exercises the direction, 
always in accordance with the nature of what God intends 
to accomplish. Yet and this is the most important they 
are not equal to one another in power: the middah of grace 
is the stronger. It, ana not rigour, is the right hand, the 
strong hand (Sifre 50). Because this is so, the world is pre- 
served; were it otherwise, it could not continue. And what 
applies to the existence of the world, applies to that of man. 
It is the right hand which God, Who judges with the left, 
stretches out towards the sinner who turns back to Him 
.and with wHch He raises him to Himself. In the whole 


course of human history, and not only in salvation, grace 
prevails; 'the measure of the good is greater than the 
measure of reprisal* it runs in an early text of the Talmud 
(Tos. Sota IV. i). In that saying about the providence of 
God and the * licence' given to man Akibah continues: *The 
world is judged by goodness' a sentence which has for its 
subject not only the last judgement but also the constant 
rale of God. The dynamic unity of justice and grace stands 
opposed in this instance to the Pauline division of the 
justice of God in this aeon and His saving grace at the End. 
Accordingly the full immediacy to the just and gracious 
God in one is established anew. One is not allowed to turn 
towards only one of the middot and to turn away from the 
other: one must submit without reservation to the move- 
ment between both in the unity of God, praying for mercy 
but not resisting the judgement, with fear and love in one, 
as God is both fearful and loving, but with a love which is 
above fear, as in God grace is above judgement. This im- 
mediacy of the whole man is directed towards the whole 
God, that which is revealed in Him and that which is hidden. 
It is the form in which Pharisaic Judaism by its doctrine of 
the middot renewed the Old Testament Emunah, the great 
trust in God as He is, in God be He as He may. It excludes 
the two great imagines which the Pauline world-view set 
over against the immediate Emunah; the demonocracy, to 
which this aeon is given over, and the mediatorship of a 
Christ at the threshold of that wh|fh is to come. 



IN Luke's Gospel (xi. i) it is related that one of the 
disciples, evidently on behalf of all, asks Jesus to teach 
them, to pray, *as John also taught his disciples*. Jesus 
then teaches them the * Our Father*. From the critical 
side it has been said, certainly rightly, 1 that it cannot indeed 
be determined how far this prayer, in essence composed 
from Jewish prayer-sentences but distinguished by the 
simplicity of the whole form, really goes back to Jesus, but 
that it is 'at least characteristic of him*. 

The first petitions are really nothing but introductory in- 
vocation and glorification in accordance with Jewish 
custom. 2 The three last, the truly personal petitions of die 

1 Bultmann, Jesus, 166. 

3 Cf. amongst otters, Klein, Der aelteste chnstliche Katechismus (1909). 
257 Isaak Heinemann refers me to the fact that the words in the 
Kaddish prayer which follow 'Hallowed be His great Name* *in the 
world which He created according to His pleasure* are missing kere. 
In my opinion one ought not to conclude that in Jesus a tendency to- 
wards the Pauline 'cosmic pessimism* is to be observed, but a difference 
in the point of view from die world-acceptance of the Kaddish is never- 
theless recognizable. 


community of those who pray, constitute a unity, which 
gives the impression of a particular authenticity related to a 
specific situation. The little band, which wanders through 
the Galilean cO'Untry with their master, is without all 
economic security and is thrown completely upon God, 
Who will let them be sustained by those amongst the people 
well-disposed towards them: they pray first of all that He 
may further help them to get the necessary daily ration in 
order to be able to travel on and to do service. But now, 
after this indispensable petition, they express the most 
essential personal petition, which reminds us at once of the 
preaching of the Baptist. He proclaimed 'the baptism of 
turning for the forgiveness of the sins' (Mark i. 4 par.); 1 
they pray for the forgiveness of the sins. That is to be sure 
also universally understandable, but it receives its signifi- 
cance from the nature and life of those who pray. *I have 
not come" 2 , says Jesus (Luke v. 32 par.) at the beginning of 
his course, after he had called the first disciples and while he 
sits at table with them and other 'tax-gatherers and sinners', 
*to call the righteous to turning but sinners'. The verse 
may or may not be 'genuine (I fancy that it is genuine pre- 
cisely as it stands in Luke) ; the one which precedes it, which 
is not being questioned, says the same: *the healthy do not 
need a doctor, but the sick*. Sinners who by following 
Jesus have accomplished their turning, the sick in soul 
who by the fact that he has drawn them unto himself have 
become well, represent the praying band. They know 
themselves liable to fall back, they experience time and 
again how easy it is even for the man who has turned to the 

1 'Forgiveness' belongs, in my opinion, like Luke xxiv, 47, to 
turning, not, like Acts ii. 38, to baptism. 

* Originally rather: *I have not been sent', as Luke iv. 43 ; it seems to 
me that here and in other related references a *Johannine* revision is 


way of God to fall again into sin, therefore they pray to 
God to forgive them their sins and not to lead them into 
temptation, for they fear lest they will not be able to with- 
stand it. 

If it is a fact that Jesus taught his disciples to pray in this 
way, then he speaks from dieir situation and from their 
minds, but at the same time from the depths of the Jewish 
tradition of prayer. 'True prayer*, it has been said, 1 *is the 
creation of the Jews*. What can this mean if we consider 
Jewish prayer against the background of the great Indian, 
Babylonian, Egyptian and early Persian prayers? Hardly 
anything eke but that here the turning to God is accom- 
plished in a peculiar direct way. To teach how to pray 
means above all forms of words: to teach how to turn one's 
self thence. In an imageless religion that is a very particular 
thing, but even more in one which perceives ever more 
clearly that * heaven and the heavens of heavens (Le. that 
seen from heaven would appear to one as heaven and so 
forth) do not contain Him' (i Kings viii. 27); the All no 
longer offers to a person a support for the act of turning. 
This can only take place, not towards the remoteness, but 
towards a nearness and intimacy, which can no longer be 
co-ordinated with the space-world: the first word, that 
which results from the act itself, is directed to God as 
Father, and only after it God as the Lord of the Basileia is 
addressed; this is the sequence in Jewish prayer also. But 
the immediacy is deepened again in the personal petitions, 
in which the 'Thou' ('Thine') no longer is the leading 
word as in the first, but, included in the imperative, is 
bound up with this strong imploring *to us'. These re- 
quests can be completely understood only from the Jewish 
doctrine of sin and forgiveness. 

According to Jewish doctrine sin is the disturbing by 
1 WeHhausen on Matt. vL 9. 

man of the fundamental relationship between God and man, 
so that as a result man is no longer identical with the creature 
of God. Forgiveness is the restoration of the fundamental 
relationship by God after man through turning to Him is set 
again in the condition of his creatureliness. Turning, pro- 
vided the individual exerts his whole soul to accomplish it, 
is not prevented by anything, not even by the sin of the 
first men. The latter changed the situation at the beginning 
without being able to impair the freedom and power to 
overcome it, for the will of God in creation is not to be 
injured by any act of that which is created. Man always 
begins again and again as God's creature, although hence- 
forth under the burden of a humanity cast out from Paradise 
into the world and history, wandering through world and 
history, yet, because the expulsion and the impulse to wan- 
der happened with both 'judgement and grace', ever now 
and always capable, as bearer of the historically increasing 
burden, of proving true before God. That he sins belongs 
to his condition, that he turns back belongs to his holding 
his own in it. He sins as Adam sinned and not because 
Adam sinned. Historically he is no longer in the original 
condition nor does he have the original power of decision, 
but fundamentally everyone is, since according to the 
doctrine of the Talmud (Bab. Nidda 3 la) there are three 
who create in every child father, mother and God; so 
God is always preseat and His participation is strong enough 
to enable the sinner to turn back. But no one goes out in 
order to turn without grace coming to meet him, and 
* whoever comes to purify himself is helped* (Bab. Shabbat 
iO4a). Because the way of humanity ever begins again, no 
matter how far it has gone astray, the man who prays 
speaks the truth when, on waking every morning, he says 
to God: 'The soul which Thou hast given me is pure'. 
True, everyone sins, but everyone may turn back. 'The 


gates are never closed' (Midrash TeMllim on Ps. Ixv), or, 
as Jesus expressed it, 'Knock, and it shall be opened to you". 
God withholds nothing from him who turns back 'unto 
God*. It says (Is. IviL 19): 'Peace, peace, to him that is far 
off and to him that is near* first to him, that is far off, then 
to him that is near. For God says, *I do not reject any 
creature, no one who in turning has given me his heart'. 
(Midrash Tehillim on Ps. cxx). Forgiveness is not eschato- 
logical, but eternally present. Immediacy to God is the 
covenant established in the creation of man, and it has not 
been and is not annulled* 

He who prays 'Forgive us our sins* delivers himself to 
the God Who here and now wills to forgive; as it is des- 
cribed in the Talmud, employing a Biblical expression for 
the venture, he places his soul in his hand and delivers it to 
Him. Prayer takes place in the immediacy and for the sake 
of the increase of the immediacy. Those who turn back 
pray that God, Who has received them, may hold them. 

Once again we must glance back at the parting of the 

I have just described Israel's doctrine of sin, which is that 
of the Pharisees and of Jesus. Apocalyptics means an in- 
trusion into it, yet not a complete one. True, the most woe- 
begone of all, 'Ezra', cries (4 Ezra viL 118): *O Adam, 
what hast thou done ! ' and complains about those of Adam's 
sons to whom was promised an immortal world but who 
did mortal deeds: the garden of bliss was shown to them, 
but they would not enter; he has nothing to say about 
forgiveness. But even he knows (lex:, cit 127) the 'meaning 
of die struggle which the earth-born struggles* and in which 
he can conquer. And from the Apocalypse of Baruch (xlviii 
42) there resounds still more urgently: *O Adam, what 
hast thou done to all of those who are descended from thee ! *, 
but then (liv. 15) it says as if in answer to this that each of 


Ms descendants procures for himself torment or honour. 
It Is different with Paul (Rom. v. 18 ): through the dis- 
obedience of the one the many have been made to sin, 
through the one trespass has come the condemnation of all 
men; there is no deliverance except through Christ. Paul 
is almost completely silent in his letters about the turning 
to which Jesus, like the prophets and the Pharisees, had 
summoned men; he is only acquainted with that joining 
with Christ through which alone the fundamental relation- 
ship may be restored. In opposition to the apocalyptists, he 
knows of an eschatological forgiveness, but only for those 
amongst sinful men who profess Christ. There is for him in 
the course of history no immediacy between God and man, 
but only at the beginning and the end; there extends in 
between over the whole area between God and man that 
fate which is only broken through for the Christian by 
Christ. 'Ask and it will be given you', Jesus had said, and 
he did not mean only those who followed him, for 'the 
Father gives good things to those who ask Him' (Matt, 
vii 1 1) : nobody is excepted. Now this is no longer the case: 
there is a power of God unto salvation, but only for those 
who believe in the message of Christ (Rom. i. 16); for all 
others even now, as before, the wrath of God is revealed 
from heaven (v. 18), which condemns them to destruction 
(ii. 12), but those who believe, they alone, are 'freely 
justified* (iii. 24), to them alone are their sins forgiven 
(v. 26). Immediacy is abolished. 'I am the door' it now runs 
(John x. 9) ; it avails nothing, as Jesus thought, to knock 
where one stands (before the * narrow door'); it avails 
nothing, as the Pharisees thought, to step into the open door; 
entrance is only for those who believe in 'the door'. 

In Matthew's Gospel the 'Our Father' is inserted in the 
Sermon on the Mount, consequently the request of the 
disciples is missing, and in its place we hear sayings about 


prayer, the last of which (vi 8) surprises one again and again 
by its genuine, entirely 'personal' sound: *For your Father 
knows what ye need before ye ask Him*. This is one of 
the most important of man's words about prayer as the 
very essence of immediacy towards God. God does not 
require to hear in order to grant, that is, in order to give to 
the individual what he really needs; but He desires that the 
individual should apply to Him in such an immediacy. 

In Paul we do not find again this teaching of Jesus about 
immediacy in prayer. His statements about prayer arise 
from a different basic situation. The most significant of 
them (Rom. viiL 26, and 2 Cor. xii y ) speak of a man 
who sometimes does not know how to pray *as was fitting' 
and to whom in this his need it happens that the Spirit comes 
over him, * intercedes for him* and speaks no longer in an 
ordered sequence of words, but *in wordless groans*, a 
thing divine speaking to God; then of one who, in the 
extreme misery of soul, beaten with fists by the messenger 
of Satan, prays to the 'Lord*, to the exalted Christ; what is 
called in the answer which he receives *my strength', which 
is perfected in weakness, is 'the strength of Christ* which 
dwells within him. These statements of the Christian man 
of the Spirit, which are of incomparable significance as 
witnesses for a f^ttintercourse with mediating powers, are 
outside immediacy. It is as if, since Jesus gave his disciples 
that instruction, a wall had been erected around the Deity, 
and it is pierced by only one door; he to whom it is opened 
beholds the God of grace Who has redeemed the world, 
but he who remains far from it is abandoned to the messen- 
gers of Satan, to whom the God of wrath has given over 



I HE periods of Christian history can be classified 
I according to the degree in which they are domin- 
I ated by Paulinism, by which we mean of course not 
JLjust a system of thought, but a mode of seeing and 
being which dwells in the life itself. In this sense our era is a 
Pauline one to a particular degree. In the human life of 
our day, compared with earlier epochs, Christianity is 
receding, but the Pauline view and attitude is gaining the 
mastery in many circles outside that of Christianity. There 
is a Paulinism of the unredeemed, one, that is, from which 
the abode of grace is eliminated: like Paul man experiences 
the world as one given into the hands of inevitable forces, 
and only the manifest will to redemption from above, only 
Christ is missing. The Christian Paulinism of our time is a 
result of the same fundamental view, although it softens 
down or removes that aspect of the demonocracy of the 
world: it sees nevertheless existence divided into an un- 
restricted rule of wrath and a sphere of reconciliation, from 
which point indeed the claim for the establishment of a 
Christian order of life is raised clearly and energetically 


enough, but de facto the redeemed Christian 
over against an unredeemed world of men in lofty impot- 
ence. Neither this picture of the abyss spanned only by the 
halo of the saviour nor that of the same abyss covered now 
by nothing but impenetrable darkness is to be understood 
as brought about by changes in subjectivity: in order to 
paint them the retina of those now living must have been 
affected by an actual fact, by the situation now existing. 

I will illustrate my position from two books, which are 
very different from each other; I choose them because the 
view of which I am speaking comes to light clearly in them. 
For this reason I have chosen one from the literature of 
modern Christian theology, because I do not know of any 
other in which the Pauline view of God is expressed so 
direcdy; it is The Mediator by Emil Brunner, The other, 
one of the few authentic similes which our age has produced, 
is the work of a non-Christian poet, a Jew, Franz Kafka's 
novel The Castle. 

I am only concerned in Brunner's book with what he has 
to say about God, and not about Christ; that is, with the 
dark foil and not the image of glory which stands out 
against it. We read: 'God cannot allow His honour to be 
impugned' ; * the kw itself demands from God the reaction* ; 
'God would cease to be God if He allowed His honour to 
be impugned*. This is said of the Father of Christ; therefore 
it does not refer to one of the gods and rulers, but to Him 
of Whom the *Old Testament* witnesses. But neither in 
this itself nor in any Jewish interpretation is God spoken of 
in this way; and such a word is unimaginable from the 
lips of Jesus as I believe I know him. For here in fact 'with 
God all things are possible'; there is nothing which he 
'could not*. Of course the rulers of this world cannot allow 
their honour to be impugned; what would remain to them 
if they did! But God to be sure prophets and psalmists 


stow how He 'glorifies His Name* to the world, and 
Scripture is full of His 'zeal', but He Himself does not 
assume any of these attitudes otherwise than remaining 
superior to them; in the language of the interpretation: 
He proceeds from one middah to the other, and none is 
adequate to Him. If the whole world should tear the 
garment of His honour into rags nothing would be done 
to Him. Which law could presume to demand anything 
from Him 5 surely the highest conceivable law is that 
which is given by Him to the world, not to Himself: 1 He 
does not bind Himself and therefore nothing binds Him. 
And that He would cease to be God' God' is a stammering 
of the world, the world of men, He himself is immeasurably 
more than *God' only, and if the world should cease to 
stammer or cease to exist, He would remain. In the im- 
mediacy we experience His anger and His tenderness in 
one; no assertion can detach one from the other and make 
Him into a God of wrath Who requires a mediator. 

In the Book of Wisdom, scarcely later than a hundred 
years before Christ, God is addressed in this fasliion: 'But 
Thou hast compassion upon all, since Thou canst do all 
things* He is able to have compassion even upon us, as 
we are! *and Thou dost overlook the sins of men up to 
their turning' He overlooks them, not that we should 
perish, but turn to Him; He does not wait until we have 
turned (this is significantly the opposite of the Synoptic 
characterization of the Baptist's preaching: not repentance 

1 Bnmn,er explains: "He law of His being God, on which all the 
kwfidness of the world is based, the fundamental order of the world, 
the consistent and reliable character of all that happens, the validity of 
all standards . .' Precisely this seems to me to be an inadmissible deriva- 
tion of the nature of the world from the nature of God, or rather the 
reverse. Order and standards are derived from the act of God, which 
sets the world in being and gives it the law, and not from a law which 
-would determine His being. C E. Brunner, The Mediator (1934), 444* 


for the remission of sins, but the remission of for re- 
pentance) *. . . for Thou iovest all creatures and abfaonrest 
nothing that Thou hast made* here the creation is obviously 
taken more seriously than the Fall *. . . Thou sparest all 
things because they are Thine, O Lord, Who wiliest good 
to the living. For Thine incorruptible Spirit is in all'. It is 
as if the author wished to oppose a doctrine current in 
Alexandria about the Jewish God of wrath. 

Kafka's contribution to the metaphysics of the 'door* Is 
known; the parable of the man who squanders his life 
before a certain open gateway which leads to the world of 
meaning, and who vainly begs admission until just before 
his death it is communicated to him that it had been Intended 
for him, but is now being shut. So *the door* Is still open; 
indeed, every person has his own door and It Is open to 
him; but he does not know this and apparently is not in a 
condition to know it. Kafka's two main works are elabora- 
tions of the theme of the parable, the one, The Trial, in the 
dimension of time, the other, The Castle, in that of space; 
accordingly the first is concerned with the hopelessness of 
man in his dealings with his soul, the second with the same 
in his dealings with the world. The parable itself is not 
Pauline but its elaborations are, only as we have said with 
salvation removed. The one is concerned with the judge- 
ment under which the soul stands and under which it 
places itself willingly; but the guilt, on account of which It 
has to be judged, is unformulated, the proceedings are 
labyrinthian and the courts of judicature themselves 
questionable without all this seeming to prejudice the 
legality of the administration of justice. The other book, 
which especially concerns us here, describes a district 
delivered over to the authority of a slovenly bureaucracy 
without the possibility of appeal, and it describes this 
district as being our world. What is at the top of the 


government, or rather above It, remains hidden in a dark- 
ness, of the nature of which one never once gets a presenti- 
ment; the administrative hierarchy, who exercise power, 
received it from above, but apparently without any com- 
mission or instruction. A broad meaninglessness governs 
without restraint, every notice, every transaction is shot 
through with meaninglessness, and yet the legality of the 
government is unquestioned. Man is called into this world, 
he is appointed in it, but wherever he turns to fulfil his 
calling he comes up against the thick vapours of a mist 
of absurdity. This world is handed over to a maze of inter- 
mediate beings it is a Pauline world, except that God is 
removed into the impenetrable darkness and that there is 
no place for a mediator. We are reminded of the Haggadic 
account (Aggadat Bereshit EK) of the sinful David, who 
prays God that He Himself may judge him and not give 
him into the hands of the seraphim and cherubim, for 'they 
are all cruel*. Cruel also are the intermediate beings of Kafka, 
but in addition they are disorderly and stupid. They arc 
extremely powerful bunglers, which drive the human 
creature through the nonsense of life and they do it with 
the full authority of their master. Certain features remind us 
of the licentious demons into which the archons of Paul's 
conception of the world have been changed in some 
Gnostic schools. 

The strength of Pauline tendencies in present-day Christ- 
ian theology is to be explained by the characteristic stamp 
of the time, just as that of earlier periods can explain that at 
one time the purely spiritual, the Johannine tendency was 
emphasized, and at another the so-called Petrine one, in 
which the somewhat undefined conception * Peter' re- 
presents the unforgettable recollection of the conversations 
of Jesus with the disciples in Galilee. Those periods are 
Pauline in which the contradictions of human life, especially 


of man's social life, so mount up that they increasingly 
assume in man's consciousness of existence the character of a 
fate. Then the light of God appears to be darkened, and the 
redeemed Christian soul becomes aware, as the unredeemed 
soul of the Jew has continually done, of the still unredeemed 
concreteness of the world of men in all its horror. Then to 
be sure, as we know indeed from Paul too, the genuine 
Christian struggles for a juster order of his community, but 
he understands the impenetrable root of the contradiction 
in the view of the threatening clouds of wrath, and clings 
with Pauline tenacity to the abundant grace of the mediator. 
He indeed opposes the ever-approaching Martionite danger, 
the severing not only of the Old and New Testaments, but 
that of creation and salvation, of Creator and Saviour, for 
he sees how near men are, as Kierkegaard says of the 
Gnosis, *to identifying creation with the Fall*, and he knows 
that a victory for Marcion can lead to the destruction of 
Christianity; but this seems to me to be more strongly 
recognized again in Christendom to-day Marcion is not 
to be overcome by Paul. 

Even Kierkegaard, a century ago, gave expression to the 
fact that there is a non-Pauline outlook, that is, one superior 
to the stamp of the age, when he wrote in his Journal a 
prayer, in which he says: * Father in heaven, it is indeed only 
the moment of silence in the inwardness of speaking with 
one another*. That to be sure is said from the point of view 
of personal existence ('When a man languishes in die 
desert, not hearing Thy voice there'), but in this respect we 
are not to distinguish between the situation of the person 
and that of man or mankind. Kierkegaard's prayer, in spite 
f his great belief in Christ, is not from Paul or from John, 
but from Jesus. 

A superficial Christian, considering Kafka's problem, 
can easily get rid of him by treating him simply as the 


unredeemed Jew who does not reach, after salvation. But only 
he who proceeds thus has now got rid of him; Kafka has 
remained untouched by this treatment. For the Jew, in so 
far as he is not detached from the origin, even die most 
exposed Jew like Kafka, is safe. All things happen to him, 
hut they cannot affect him. He is not to be sure able any 
longer to conceal himself 'in the covert of Thy wings* 
(Ps. Ixi. 4), for God is hiding Himself from the time in 
-which he lives, and so from him, its most exposed son; but 
in the fact of God's being only hidden, which he knows, he 
is safe. 'Better the living dove on the roof than the half-dead, 
convulsively resisting sparrow in the hand.' He describes, 
from innermost awareness, the actual course of the world, 
he describes most exactly the rule of the foul devilry which 
fills the foreground; and on the edge of the description he 
scratches the sentence: 'Test yourself on humanity. It makes 
the doubter doubt, the man of belief, believe'. His unex- 
pressed, ever-present theme is the remoteness of the judge, 
the remoteness of the lord of the castle, the hiddenness, the 
eclipse, the darkness; and therefore he observes: 'He who 
believes can experience no miracle. During the day one does 
not see any stars'. This is the nature of the Jew's security in 
the dark, one which is essentially different from that of 
the Christian. It allows no rest, for as long as you live, you 
must live with the sparrow and not with the dove, who 
avoids your hand; but, being without illusion, it is con- 
sistent with the foreground course of the world, and so 
nothing can harm you. For from beyond, from the darkness 
of heaven the dark ray comes actively into the heart, with- 
out any appearance of immediacy. * We were created to live 
in Paradise, Paradise was appointed to serve us. Our destiny 
has been changed; that this also happened with the appoint- 
ment of Paradise is not said.' So gently and shyly anti- 
Paulinism speaks from the heart of this Pauline painter of 


the foreground-hell: Paradise is still there and it benefits us. 
It is there, and that means it is also here where the dark ray 
meets the tormented heart. Are the unredeemed in need of 
salvation? They suffer from the unredeemed state of the 
world. * Every misery around us we too must suffer* 
there it is again, the word from the shoot of Israel. The 
unredeemed soul refuses to give up the evidence of the 
unredeemed world from which it suffers, to exchange it for 
the soul's own salvation. It is able to refuse, for it is safe. 

This is the appearance of Paulinism without Christ which 
at this time when God is most hidden has penetrated into 
Judaism, a Paulinism therefore opposed to Paul. The course 
of the world is depicted in more gloomy colours than ever 
before, and yet Emunah is proclaimed anew, with a still 
deepened 'in spite of all this', quite soft and shy, but unam- 
biguous. Here, in the midst of the Pauline domain, it has 
taken the place of Pistis. In all its reserve, the late-born, 
wandering around in the darkened world, confesses in face 
of the suffering peoples of the world with those messengers 
of Deutero-Isaiah (Is. xlv. 15) : 'Truly Thou art a God Who 
hides Himself, O God of Israel, Saviour !* So must Emunah 
change in a time of God's eclipse in order to persevere stead- 
fast to God, without disowning reality. That He hides Him- 
self does not diminish the immediacy; in the immediacy 
He remains the Saviour and the contradiction of existence 
becomes for us a theophany. 



HE crisis of our time is also the crisis of the two types 
of faith, Emunah and Pistis. 

They are as fundamentally different in nature 
as in their origin, and accordingly their crisis is 

The origin of the Jewish Emunali is in the history of a 
nation, that of Christian Pistis in that of individuals. 

Emunah originated in the actual experiences of Israel, 
which were to it experiences of faith. Small, then great num- 
bers of people, first in search of open pasture-land, then of 
land for a free settlement, make their journey as being led 
by God. This fact, that Israel experienced its way to Canaan, 
which was its way into history, already in the days of the 
* Fathers' as guidance, sensually as guidance through wilder- 
ness and dangers this fact which took place historically 
once only is the birth of Emunah. Emunah is the state of 
'persevering' also to be called trust in the existential 
sense of man in an invisible guidance which yet gives 
itself to be seen, in a hidden but self-revealing guidance; 
but the personal Emunah of every individual remains 


embodied in that of the nation and draws its strength, from the 
living memory of generations in the great leadings of early 
times. In the historical process of becoming individual the 
form of this embodiment changes, but not its essence. 
Even when a rabbi of the late Hasid Sect sees the * Shekinah*, 
the 'indwelling* of God, approach him at a crossing of the 
road, something of the former guidance is present. In our 
day for the first time the connexion is increasingly becoming 
loose. In the generations of the period of emancipation the 
People of Faith is being broken up increasingly into a 
religious community and a nation which are no longer 
organically bound together, but only structurally. In the 
secular nation Emunah has no longer a psychical foundation 
nor in the isolated religion a vital one. Therefore the danger 
which threatens personal faith is to become impoverished in 
its essential spontaneity in the time of eclipse and in its place 
to be succeeded by elements of Pistis, in part of a logical and 
in part of a mystical character. But the crisis of the People 
of Faith extends further. For the purpose of the guidance, 
which was expressed at the beginning of the revelation, 
was actually (Exod. xix. 6) that Israel might become *a 
royal sphere of direct attendants (this is the original meaning 
of the word kohanim, usually: priests, preserved in this and 
a few other places) and a holy nation' (that is, consecrated 
to God as its Lord). When the breaking~up is completed 
this purpose is repudiated. Then only a great renewal of 
national faith would be able to provide the remedy. In this 
the ever-existent inner dialectic of Israel between those 
giving up themselves to guidance and those 'letting them- 
selves go' must come to a decision in the souls themselves, 
so that the task of becoming a holy nation may set itself in a 
new situation and a new form suitable to it. The individuals, 
regenerated in the crisis, who maintain themselves in 
Emunah,. would have fulfilled the function, when it comes 


about, of sustaining the living substance of faith through 
the darkness. 

Christian Pistis was bora outside the historical experiences 
of nations, so to say in retirement from history, in the souls 
of individuals, to whom the challenge came to believe that 
a man crucified in Jerusalem was their saviour. Although 
this faith, in its very essence, was able to raise itself 
to a piety of utter devotedness and to a mysticism of 
union with him in whom they believed, and although it did 
so, yet it rests upon a foundation which, in spite of its 
"irrationality*, must be described as logical or noetic: the 
accepting and recognizing as true of a proposition pro- 
nounced about the object of faith. All the fervour or ecstasy 
of feeling, all the devotion of life, grew out of the accept- 
ance of the claim and of the confession made both in the 
soul and to die world: *I believe that it is so'* This position, 
in its origins arising from a Greek attitude, a thorough 
acknowledgment of a fact which is beyond the current 
circle of conceptions, yet an acknowledgment accom- 
plished in a noetic form, came into being (in distinction 
from the major part of the later history of conversion) as 
the action of the person who was sharply separated thereby 
from the community of his nation, and the demand was 
directed just to such an attitude. To be sure Jesus also ad-* 
dresses himself to the individual, or, when he speaks to a 
number of people, to the individuals amongst them; but 
one has only to listen how (Matt. xv. 24) he speaks about the 
*lost sheep 1 of the house of Israel* ; he sees even them still 
in the frame of the 'house'. The like is not heard after him. 
Paul often speaks about Jews and Greeks, but never in con- 
nexion with the reality of their nationalities: he is only 
concerned with the newly-established community, which 

1 Tie expression (see Jer. 1. 6; Ezek. xxxiv. 4, 16; Ps. cxix, 176) is to 
be understood of animals which have strayed from the herd. 


by its nature is not a nation. The conception of the s holy 
nation' in its strict sense has faded altogether, it does not 
enter into the consciousness of Christendom, and soon 
that of the Church takes its place. The consequence of all 
this is that even in the mass-baptisms of the West occur- 
rences which were far removed, both phenomenologically 
and psychologically, from the individual act of Hellenistic 
Pistis the individuals as individuals, not the nations, 
became Christian, that is, subject to Christ: the * People of 
God' was Christendom, which in its nature differed from 
the nations, and these remain in their own nature and their 
own law as they were. Therefore those who believed in 
Christ possessed at every period a twofold being: as in- 
dividuals in the realm of the person and as participants in 
the public life of their nations. This state of existence re- 
mained, preserved from the crisis so long as the sphere of 
the person was able to assert itself against the determining 
power of public affairs. The crisis grows according to the 
degree in which the sphere of the person has been pene- 
trated, in our era, by this. The blessing of Christian salva- 
tion, the true consistency of the redeemed soul, is imperilled. 
A hundred years ago Kierkegaard recognized this severely 
and clearly, but without estimating adequately the causes 
or showing the seat of the malady. It is a question of the 
disparity between the sanctification of the individual and 
the accepted unholiness of his community as such, and the 
disparity is necessarily transferred to the inner dialectic of 
the human soul. The problem which rises here points to the 
task inherited by Israel and to its problematic nature. 

But in connexion with this we are allowed to anticipate 
in our thought that here also there is a way which leads 
from rigid Paulinism to another form of Pistis nearer to 
Emunah. The faith of Judaism and the faith of Christendom 
are by nature different in kind, each in conformity with its 


human basis, and they will indeed remain different, until 
mankind is gathered in from the exiles of the 'religions' 
into the Kingship of God. But an Israel striving after the 
renewal of its faith through the rebirth of the person and a 
Christianity striving for the renewal of its faith through the 
rebirth of nations would have something as yet unsaid to 
say to each other and a help to give to one another hardly 
to be conceived at the present time. 



of Principal Subjects and Names referred to 
in die Text 

Abraham, 44, 46 ff, 54, 88, 120 
Adam, 73, 119, 158, 159 
AHbah, 76, 151, 154 
Amenophis IV, 126 
Anthropomorphism, 129, 153 
Apocalypse of Baruch, 159 
Augustine, 135 

Binitarianism, 128 

Bultrnann, 117 

Brunner's doctrine of God, 163 

Conversion, 10 
Cyrus, no 

Daniel, 109, 112, 144 
David, 64, 73, 106, 166 
Deutero-Isaiah, 107, HI, 112, 120 
Dostoevski, 132 

Eknchos, 37 

Eliah, 99, 104 

Emunah, 26, 28, 29, 63, 116, 128, 

131, 154,169, 170 ff. 
Enoch, 43, 99, 104, 112 
Epicurus, 41 
Eternal life, 41, 129, 133 
Existence of God, 38-41, 43 
Ezekiel, 86 ff., 144 
Ezra-Apocalypse, 145 ff. 


in Episde to the Hebrews, 

3 6ff.,43 

in John's Gospel, 39 ff. 

in Synoptic and John's Gospels, 


its two-fold meaning, 712 
Fate and Providence, 150 ff. 
Feeling, 8 

Francis of Assisi, 131 

Gamaliel H, 73 
Goliath, 73 

Habakkuk, 48 

'Hardening of the Heart*, 83-90 

Hasidism, 59, 61, 77 

Hegel, 90 

Hosea, 138 

Images in the conception of God, 

Immediacy towards God, 130 , 

140, 150, 154, 157, 159 ff., 

164, 169 

Jabne, 64 
Jannai, 61 
Jeremiah, 144 



Ascension from the cross and 

resurrection, 99, 113 

Deification, 112, 115 , 130 
Faith in Christ, 96 

'FoBowkg Jesus', 94 ft, 115, 


Jesus and Israel, 89 

Messianic office, 30 ff. 

Messianic secret, 107 

Nicodemus, 117-125 

Prayer, 155 ,159 

Preaching, 24 ff., 29, 94 

Self-consciousness, 31, 102 ff. 

Suffering and death, 102-105, 

112 f. 

Teaching on "belief and un- 

belief, 17-21, 39 

Teaching in Sermon on Mount, 


Thomas, 127 
Job, 40, 57, 144, 14^ 

John the Baptise, 24, 26, 105, 156 
Josephus, 34, 145, 151 
Josiah, 143, 145 
Jubilees, Book of, 76 
Judaism and Christendom, 170- 

Kafka, 163, 165 ,167 ff. 
Kierkegaard, 167, 173 
Kingship of God, 27 , 118 

Lishmah doctrine, 92 F. 

Love in Old Testament, 68-72, 136 

Luther, 122 

Maccabee*, Second Book of, 144 
Maccabees, Fourth Book of, 152 
Mediator, 150, 152 f, 164 

Maraon, 141, 167 

Megiddo* 143 

Messiah, 30, 31, 51, 105-113, n6 9 

121, 152 

Middahj mtddot 9 152 ff. 
Mishnah, 41, 42, 43 
Monotheism, 133 
Moses, 45, 66, 67, 75, 99 

Mysteries, 100 

Nicodemus, 117-125 


Faith and law, 44, 46-50 

Faith and works, 51-55 

Faith in Christ, 96 ff. 

Gnosticism, 83, 148, 166 

Government of the world, 81 

'Hardening of the heart', 85 

Love of God, 135 , 137 ff. 

Monotheism, 133 

Prayer, 161 

Redemption, 82 , 88 , 91, 

96 ,98 

Resurrection of Christ, 98 

Romans vii, 147 ff. 

Torah, 80 ff., 83 ff., 91 

Wrath of God, 139 ff. 
Paulinism, 162 ff., 166, 168 , 173 
Pistis, 26, 43, 97> *<%>, I70~i73 
Pharisees, 58, 61 ff., 65-68, 151, 


'Direction of the heart*, 63 ff., 


Doctrine of the middot of God, 

152 ff. 

Lishtnah doctrine, 92 ff. 

Love to God, 136 

Love to man, 73 , 79 

Torah, 91-94 


Pharaoh, 83, 86, 144 SoederHom, 132 

Philo, 34, 119, 152 Solomon, 61, 64 

Pneuma, 121 ff. Son of Man, 103, 112 

Prayer, 155-161 Sons of God, 75, 125 

Problem of suffering, 143-150, 152 Spinoza, 136 
Psalms of Solomon, 151, 152 

Talmud, 41, 47, 61, 158 

Rang* *32 Thomas, 127 

Re'ah, 69 ff, 72 Torallf 4I> $3 $6 > 6l> 63 ^ f 73> 
Resurrection, 9, 99 ff 79 , O2 , 97, 114 

Ruach t 122 

c ^ Usener, 116 

Satan, 161 

Schktter, 124 

Septuagint, 47, 52, 69 , Weiss, J., 99 

Sermon on the Mount, 59 , 62 , Wisdom, Book of, 164 

65 , 67 ff., 75 , 160 Wisdom of Solomon, 144 

Servant of JHVH, 105, no Wrath of God, 139 
Simon Magus, 19 

Sin, 64 , 8 1 Zaddikim, 77, 144 

Jewish doctrine of sin and for- Zealots, 68 

giveness, 157 ff. Zedek, zedakah, 45